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

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Giving Your Team a Special Identity

Some months after I had joined Apple, Steve and I were discussing the final steps in readying a building for the Mac team to move into—a building of their own. (Among my other duties, I was also responsible for the facilities group at Apple—convenient for Steve so he could readily give me his architectural inputs; yes, of course, he held strong opinions and had well-developed taste about architecture, as well.) He told me about his recent dinner with the incredibly talented advertising man who had become Steve’s esteemed friend, Jay Chiat of Chiat/Day Advertising. He and Chiat, Steve said, had come up with the answer regarding how to re-energize the culture of the Macintosh development team. He gave me the concept in a single word: Pirates.

And then he gave me the rest of it: “Pirates! Not The Navy.”

He wasn’t looking for my approval on this one, but I chimed in anyway: “Wow—brilliant!” It reflected all the attributes we wanted to convey. This turned out to be a remarkably suitable time for announcing a shift in culture. The early Mac team members had begun to complain that the organization was getting too big and that it was starting to feel bureaucratic. The Mac team had begun as rebellious, and now we were seeing it grow more like The Navy every day.

Steve didn’t mention the Pirates idea to anyone else, holding onto it until another off-site, this one at the La Playa Hotel in Carmel—once again near a sandy beach on the Pacific Ocean.

At the ...

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