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Wired: Steve Jobs' Management Style Bucks Trends

Wired: Steve Jobs' Management Style Bucks Trends

by , 3:00 PM EDT, March 19th, 2008

Over the last 100 years, management philosophy has gone from enslavement to empowerment, according to Leander Kahney at Wired Magazine . Steve Jobs has bucked that trend with what seems like tactics from the Industrial Revolution, and it has worked. The results have allowed Apple to leap ahead of the competition.

"In the 1940s, Bill Hewlett and David Packard pioneered what business author Tom Peters dubbed 'managing by walking around,' an approach that encouraged executives to communicate informally with their employees. In the 1990s, Intel's executives expressed solidarity with the engineers by renouncing their swanky corner offices in favor of standard-issue cubicles," Mr. Kahney wrote.

In contrast, Mr. Jobs has gone against that trend, ruling with an iron hand, attending to every little product detail, and keeping employees on a roller coaster of praise and fear.

Despite Mr. Jobs' tirades, Apple employees are devoted. "That's because his autocracy is balanced by his famous charisma — he can make the task of designing a power supply feel like a mission from God. Andy Hertzfeld, lead designer of the original Macintosh OS, says Jobs imbued him and his coworkers with 'messianic zeal'."

Also, there's that thing about changing the world, and Apple employees believe they can do it.

Mr. Kahney's five part article recounts some old stories about Mr. Jobs and his Apple parking space and adds some new insights from Apple employees. The net result, however, is not just an understanding of how Mr. Jobs thinks, but how that's translated into huge success against brutal competition in Silicon Valley. Guy Kawasaki summed it up:

"Steve proves that it's OK to be an asshole. I can't relate to the way he does things, but it's not his problem. It's mine. He just has a different OS."

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