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

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Evangelizing Innovation

I keep coming back to the subject of innovation because it underlies so much of learning to be Steve-like.

Creating an environment that supports and encourages innovation is one of your most important roles as a leader. A Pirate team or Pirate company like the original Macintosh group is a fertile setting for this, but leaders need to remember the symbolic power of their actions. Again, Steve was as proud of the many products and product ideas that he gave the axe to over the years as the ones that he pursued and made into great successes—knowing that it can be tougher to say no and kill a promising idea than to say yes, and find yourself trying to do so many things at once that none of them are done to the highest standard of quality that Steve always insisted on.

One of my favorite stories of Steve encouraging innovation—or, rather, I should say demanding innovation—vividly illustrates his level of involvement in details of a product that most anyone else would have taken for granted. When he was shown an early model of the iPod, he said it was too large. His developers explained that they had used the absolute minimum size of case that would hold all the necessary components.

Steve carried the device to a fish tank and dropped the iPod into the tank. As it sank, a stream of air bubbles gurgled to the surface. Steve gestured to the bubbles and pointed out that if things were really packed tightly inside, there would not be any space left for the air that ...

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