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

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Facing Up to Mistakes

I suppose all successful leaders learn from their mistakes. Steve was a master of that tactic, and his first major encounter with this was with the Macintosh. The advance publicity before the launch of the first Mac had been huge. Steve Jobs, this young, good-looking multimillionaire kid, had become a media favorite, making him the poster boy for the entire technology industry. Every time we turned around, he was on the cover of another major national magazine, with a full-of-praise interview. Unlike the secrecy Steve would later insist on for forthcoming products, the Macintosh was written about as opening a new era in computing. Praise was heaped on the product from every side.

January 24, 1984, when the Mac went on sale, was a keystone date in Steve’s life and in the lives of every member of the Mac team. Yet Steve was quickly faced with a painful lesson. He had made some large and costly mistakes. By focusing so much on the user interface, he now realized, he had overlooked some crucial shortcomings. He had not put enough effort into getting software developers to write applications for the Macintosh. Customers who bought the machine could write letters on it, draft memos, write sales reports, and the like. And they could play some simple games that came with the machine. But there wasn’t much else they could do with it. Some reporters wrote articles calling it a toy.

And then there was the disk-swap problem. Steve had insisted the Mac didn’t need a hard ...

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