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

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The Workplace

One aspect of creating an innovative team is almost always overlooked: providing a suitable space—a unique, distinctive workplace that sets the team apart and reduces the opportunities for interference from The Navy of the larger organization. An appropriate workspace can be critical to creating the innovative culture you are seeking. This is one aspect in which creating a start-up or entrepreneurial organization has an advantage over creating an innovative team within an existing company and its traditional culture: you get to begin fresh, without worrying about interference.

By the time I reached Apple, I had already lived through the challenge of what it’s like to create an appropriate working environment for a Pirate team surrounded by The Navy. One of the things that intrigued Steve when we first met was my story of developing the center for innovation at IBM—the whole concept of space designed to support innovation and creativity for developers.

In addition to providing a separate building for the Macintosh team, Steve came to understand the truth that the design and quality of the team’s workspace could have a lot to do with their productivity and success. He carried out the concepts well beyond what we had done as a team, going to extraordinary—in some ways almost laughable—lengths to provide a unique work environment where people would be focused on the product without distraction and would be distinctly separated from the rest of the company. He intuitively ...

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