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

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The Way It’s Made Can Be a Part of the Vision

One of Steve’s heroes, American car pioneer Henry Ford, not only changed society by making automobiles inexpensive enough for the masses but along the way demonstrated that large-scale mass manufacturing was possible. Ford didn’t invent the assembly line (it’s said that he picked up the idea from a visit to a slaughterhouse!) but he was the first to use the technique in large factories, where workers were able to turn out a car at the astounding pace of better than one an hour. (A comparison isn’t entirely fair since today’s cars are vastly more complex but, a century later, the production rate is only twice as fast.)

So, when Steve began dreaming of creating a new, automated factory to build the Macintosh, there was a lot of Henry Ford embedded in the dream. Steve was driven in part by a concern about the ability of the existing Apple manufacturing system to be competitive in building Macs. But beyond that, it was a cultural issue, a matter of national pride: He was very concerned about the fact that the Japanese were becoming the manufacturing kings of the world. In fact, when the Mac factory became a topic of buzz in 1982, even Apple Computer was having over 60 percent of its products manufactured outside the United States. Besides Steve’s drive to be personally in charge of every aspect of bringing the Macintosh to life that he could, his dream of having a Made in the USA label on the Macs was a powerful part of his vision for the ...

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