Steve Jobs at 44


    Steve Jobs

    (5 of 6)

    My job is to interact with other people and hopefully have something to contribute in that realm of ideas. Because that's what makes Apple and Pixar go around. They're not hierarchical organizations where you say, "You work for me, so do this." That's long gone. If a really good person works for you and you tell them what to do all the time, they're just going to say, "I'm going to go work for somebody else who lets me tell them what we're going to do." What I tell people around here is that the reason we pay you all this money is that you're supposed to tell us what to do. I took away almost all the bonus programs here. None of the senior team is on it. It's all stock. We gave everybody a lot of stock. It's very entrepreneurial in two or three regards.

    Number one, everybody is compensated like a startup. Number two, we have a very simple, clear organization. It's very easy to know who has authority for what, who has responsiblity for what. There's no politics about it, they're virtually politics-free organizations. There's no turf wars. Avi runs software. John runs hardware. Mitch runs Sales. It's really simple. Number 3, we have a very simple mission. It's very easy to communicate what we're trying to do.

    I have a blast because I get to work with these super-talented people. Take Johnny Ive. The last few weeks we've been working on this new product we're going to have a year from now. Just working out the concept for how it's gonna be. How we're going to engineer it, present it, what it's going to look like. We've had some incredible breakthroughs in a series of four or five hour-long conversations. Incredible breakthroughs. Our design group is light-years ahead of their peers.

    Managing All These People
    There are approximately 10,000 people at Apple. And so it's a complex organization that requires a lot of coordination and information flowing back and forth. One of the challenges in both and Pixar and Apple is managing complexity. In Pixar, we started off doing short films, and our first short film, Luxo Jr., took three hours on the fastest computer we could get our hands on to render one frame of the movie. 13 years later, as we finish Toy Story II, we're using computers that are a thousand or more times faster. And how long does it take to render one frame of film? Three hours. Because complexity has gone up a thousandfold.

    So part of our job at Pixar is to manage complexity. Take a frame from A Bug's Life, where all the grass is moving around. Well, if an animator had to move every blade of grass through the wind, they'd never get to the main characters. So in order to have those blades of grass blow in the wind, we had to come up with smart grass. Grass that knows how to blow by itself in the wind. So all the animator has to do is say, "The wind is coming from this direction, this is the burst pattern, and the grasses will just do their own thing." Our next film, Monsters Inc., we're going to be throwing five times the computing power at it. And we're going to get it done with the same number of people.

    And the same concept is true of organizations. You've got to figure out a way to manage the complexity of large projects yet still allow your core teams to focus on the essentials. And the way you do that is, you build up capabilities within your organization to do things on a high quality level on a routine basis with good leaders leading small and medium-sized teams and coordinating with their peers in other groups so you can collectively do things that are very impressive. Now, I don't get a chance to interact with 10,000 people. the number of people I get to interact with in this company is probably about 50 on a regular basis. Maybe 100. And one of the things that I've always felt is that most things in life, if you get something twice as good as average you're doing phenomenally well. Usually the best is about 30% better than average. Two to one's a big delta. But hat became really clear to me in my work life was that, for instance, [Steve] Woz[niak] was 25 to 50 times better than average. And I found that there were these incredibly great people at doing certain things, and you couldn't replace one of these people with 50 average people. They could just do stuff that no number of average people could do. So what I learned early on was that if you could assemble a team of these very high-performance people, extremely talented people, a few things happen: number one, unlike what you'd think, they actually all got along with each other. This whole prima donna thing turned out to be a myth with the very best people. Secondly, small and medium-sized teams of these people could accomplish extraordinary things and run circles around large large teams of normal people. And so I have spent my work life trying to find and recruit and retain and work with these kind of people. My #1 job here at Apple is to make sure that the top100 people are A+ players. And everything else will take care of itself. If the top 50 people are right, it just cascades down throughout the whole organization.

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