Right now, I’m only halfway through the biography of Steve Jobs. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Steve Jobs prior to reading this book.
I now know that he was a project manager, among other roles at Apple and other companies.
Poor project managers.
A Culture of Fear
At least the first half his biography paints a picture of a visionary, charismatic and highly driven leader.
Who was also a spoilt brat?
The image I see of Apple in the Macintosh days, is one of fear culture. Jobs claimed that by being so harsh on his employees (which actually meant being insufferable), he would ensure that only “A-” players were on his team. Perhaps there is truth to this.
The only employees who lasted at Apple during the Macintosh days were those who were confident enough to stand up and take on Steve. An award was given to the person of year who is the most capable of standing up to their boss. Maybe there is a correlation between standing up for Steve Jobs and being an “A” player for the team. There are many players who quit the company because they don’t want Steve to be there.
A Steve Jobs Project Environment
These were the characteristics that struck me most about Steve and his project environments.
Amazing Lack of Trust
It seems that even those who work close to Steve wouldn’t trust them as much as they could.
They might be able to trust him to be a superman when they need one, but they can’t trust him that he will keep his promises.
Stories are told several times in the book where Steve takes credit for his team’s thoughts. This is a problem for me.
Many employees who were interviewed for the book shared their stories about how they would tell Steven about a new idea they had. Steven would then say that it was stupid.
He would then come back a week later and say “I’ve got this great idea”, which would be their idea that he had said was rubbish a week earlier.
Micromanaged to the Max
As far as I can tell, Steve managed everyone and everything. He was most likely to tell you that your work was a joke.
It seems to me that creativity was not about pleasing Steve.
How to manage projects like Steve Jobs
It would look something like the following if one were to write a book on how to manage projects such as Steve Jobs.
Step 1 – Become Steve Jobs. Step 2 – Micromanage your team and bully them until a product is made.
This management strategy won’t work if you aren’t Steve Jobs.
One thing I have learned so far from the book is that project managers must be able communicate a vision to their employees.
Jobs was a master at this.
His “reality distortion field”, which he called it, is legendary. But unless you can be charismatic preacher and ignore reality, you won’t be able use the reality distortion field.
What do you think of Steve Jobs? Did he make a great or terrible project manager?
[image credit:? ?DonkeyHotey]