Getting to core of why apple is great
By Adam Lashinsky
WHO is not fascinated by Apple and Steve Jobs? That small minority will probably want to steer clear of 'Inside Apple' by Adam Lashinsky but the rest of us will dive right in.
This is an example of successful business-book writing. It is a study of success that looks closely at what Apple does differently, and why, based on interviews with ex-employees.
The conclusions are too varied to summarise in a review, but the basic answer is that 35-year-old Apple is a surprisingly old-fashioned company with old-fashioned values.
There are many tips that anybody owning a business would do well to borrow, such as assigning a directly responsible individual (DRI) tag to every task and hosting an annual meeting for the top 100 people within the company, with "top" being defined as the people Jobs would have taken with him if he had suddenly left Apple.
Jobs comes out of the book as an unhinged design dictator who makes thousands of corporate decisions, from trivial to vital, himself. (Trivial included the food served in canteens to the design of buses on the Apple campus.)
Jobs also comes across as a hard taskmaster but this will hardly be a surprise; a company such as Apple could hardly exist if it tolerate slip-shod work.
Many companies pay lip service to the idea that their customers and products are more important than the bottom line but Lashinsky's research appears to prove that Apple actually operates along these lines.
The author argues that by removing the constant budgeting that is a feature of corporate life, Apple gives executives the freedom to cooperate without worrying about who will pay for what.
Jobs reckoned that it would have been impossible for Sony to develop the iPod because too many departments would have been involved. That sort of speculation is where the book falls down; Sony may be suffering problems at present but it is still a great company that has given the world real benefits.
Where 'Inside Apple' works best is when it describes the minutiae of life at the company: the Monday meetings that set the agenda for the week, the Wednesday design meetings and the like.
This is also the sort of information that will travel well and could influence many other companies.
But that is not to say that the gossip is not also fascinating. Jobs' dislike of golf and his insistence on booking hotels without golf courses made this (non-golf playing) reviewer smile.
The book is available with free P&P on www.kennys.ie or by calling 091 709350