O'Reilly logo

Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

The Quest for Autonomy

I had come to Apple with some management skills I picked up in my years at IBM, where, for a time, I was part of that research team in San Jose developing what would become the forerunner of the ATM. The team included a unique group of engineers—very independent guys, trying to do their own thing. But independent wasn’t a term in the IBM vocabulary. For every group like this, IBM always assigned a senior manager, supposedly a mentor but more of a monitor, to oversee the operation and keep it under control. Even though we were working in a research center, and actually called a Skunk Works unit, we were nowhere as free to operate as Steve Jobs was in his Macintosh days.

If you have your eyes set on creating autonomy within a larger company, you’ll need to realize that the degree of freedom and independence Steve Jobs was able to wrest from Apple in some ways went a good deal beyond what is reasonable to expect in other situations. It helped that he had a champion supporting his cause: as a vice president, I was able to find ways of protecting the Mac group against attempts by the Apple bureaucracy to rein him in.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required