Brent Schlender is running an article for Fast Company about Steve Jobs’ time away from Apple after rediscovering a bunch of lost interview tapes he recorded with Jobs during his “Wilderness Years,” as Schlender notes.
Of particular interest are Jobs’ views on running a successful organization.
The late Apple co-founder regarded a company as a living organism, in which every cell has the master plan for the whole gig, despite being specialized for a specific task.
“Think of it this way, if you look at your own body, your cells are specialized, but every single one of them has the master plan for the whole body,” Jobs said.
“We think our company will be the best possible company if every single person working here understands the whole master plan and can use that as a yardstick to make decisions against. We think a lot of little and medium and big decisions will be made better if all our people know that,” he said.
He made an example out of Big Blue, noting that “The people at the top of IBM knew nothing about computers. Nothing. Nothing. The people at the top of Disney [on the other hand], know a lot about what a really good film is and what is not,” Jobs remarked.
So no wonder Jobs regarded computer companies and the relationships between them as marriages of the tech industry.
“One way to drive fear out of a relationship is to realize that your partner’s values are the same as yours, that what you care about is exactly what they care about,” he opined. “In my opinion, that drives fear out and makes for a great partnership, whether it’s a corporate partnership or a marriage.”
Schlender recalls bumping into Steve Jobs on the street one day and winding up joining him as he shopped for a new bicycle for his wife’s upcoming birthday. Jobs told Schlender he’d never have his administrative assistant shop presents for him.
“I like buying presents for my family myself,” Jobs said.
The treasure trove of unearthed interviews inevitably mentions Jobs’ obsession with details.
“The custom-made bricks came in 12 shades, and if the colors weren’t distributed evenly enough, Jobs would have the bricklayers pull them down and do it again. He would visit the construction site as often as he could as it came together, often clambering around the buildings at night, when no one but the security guards were around,” Schlender writes.
Schlender’s piece on the lost interviews with Steve Jobs will appear in the May 2012 issue of FastCo. The full article can be found here