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

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Apple’s Space Ship

In June 2011, the city council of Cupertino, California—where Apple has always had its main offices—was scheduled to hold a hearing on the company’s request to build a large new corporate campus. Steve was by then quite ill. But still putting a very high premium on the workspace of his innovators, he made the effort to personally present the case for approval of Apple’s plans for a massive, futuristic-looking building.

He was helped in from a back door dressed in his trademark black turtleneck and jeans. The bright lights of the room exaggerated how ill he looked, which for people who had known him when he was healthy and vital was especially painful to see. But he had felt the need to be there in person because he had come to believe way back in the Macintosh days how important the workspace is when you want to create an innovative culture.

He came knowing that Apple was the biggest taxpayer in the city, and so wielded a lot of clout, but also knowing that the council would only approve the construction if they were convinced that it was the right thing to do for the community. He knew that without their approval, Apple could not proceed. So Steve began with something of a sales pitch.

Explaining that Apple’s existing headquarters held only 2,800 people but that the company had a total of over 12,000 scattered around Silicon Valley, he said, “We’re just out of space [but] we’ve got a plan that lets us stay in Cupertino. As Hewlett-Packard has been shrinking ...

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