At Apple, You Know Something Big Is Happening When the Carpenters Appear

Adam Lashinssky sheds light on the secrecy within 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA

Adam Lashinsky’s upcoming book, Inside Apple, is arguably the most revelatory piece of material when it comes to the level of secrecy imposed by the Cupertino company.

The author has published a huge excerpt from his book dedicated to the subject. One particularly interesting aspect is how Apple employees learn whenever something big is going down.

“Apple employees know something big is afoot when the carpenters appear in their office building,” Lashinsky writes.

“New walls are quickly erected. Doors are added and new security protocols put into place. Windows that once were transparent are now frosted. Other rooms have no windows at all. They are called lockdown rooms: No information goes in or out without a reason.”

And that’s only the first phase. According to the author, employees whose badges used to get them places no longer work in such scenarios. Talk about being kept in the dark!

“What's more, your badge, which got you into particular areas before the new construction, no longer works in those places. All you can surmise is that a new, highly secretive project is under way, and you are not in the know. End of story,” writes Lashinsky.

Fresh blood is even less aware of what’s going on around them. New recruits learn what building they’ll be working in only shortly before they begin to take up their chores.

According to the book, many new recruits get so‑called dummy positions. They’re not briefed on their roles until after they fully join Apple.

A former engineer who had been a graduate student before joining the company told Lashinsky, "They wouldn't tell me what it was. I knew it was related to the iPod, but not what the job was."

Others knew but they weren’t allowed to say anything, “a realization that hits the newbies on their first day of work at new-employee orientation,” Lashinsky stresses.

Another ex-Apple staffer recalled a similar episode:

"You sit down, and you start with the usual roundtable of who is doing what," said Bob Borchers, a product marketing executive in the early days of the iPhone. "And half the folks can't tell you what they're doing, because it's a secret project that they've gotten hired for."

The entire excerpt (from the February 6, 2012 issue of Fortune) is worth every Apple fan’s attention. If you’re interested in the book, you can order Inside Apple here.

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