Inside Apple: The Secret Behind the Past and Future Success of Steve Jobs’s Iconic Brand, Adam Lashinsky, Hachette India, Pp 236 (HB), Rs 499.00
THE past decade has seen Apple rise from relative obscurity to stratospheric heights. Under the guidance of its former CEO, Steve Jobs, Apple came out with one bedazzling innovation after the other. Both Apple and its CEO became icons of perfect elegance and subtle coolness in the world of consumer electronics. But according to Adam Lashinsky, author of Inside Apple: The Secret Behind the Past and Future Success of Steve Jobs’s Iconic Brand, Apple isn’t quite as composed as it seems to be on face value. He suggests that “its fans and foes alike would see it as a giant jumble of contradictions.”
Lashinsky opens up by mentioning that Steve Jobs was not only the face of Apple, but was its heart, mind and soul as well. All things no matter how big or small were brought to the attention of the CEO, and he took a personal interest in everything Apple. In short Lashinsky believes that Jobs concentrated all of his time at Apple not only to make industry changing devices, but also into fusing his DNA into it. This book is an attempt to measure Jobs’ degree of success.
One of Apple’s lesser known facets is the fact that it holds its cards very close to its chest. So close that actually the engineers in Apple themselves don’t know all the projects Apple is working on. More interestingly, many of the people at Apple spend their entire tenure knowing just three to four key personnel. This is a complete violation of the thumbs-up that all management teachings give to transparency. Apart from the CEO and a handful of his lieutenants no one in or out of Apple knows of its operations. “Teams are purposely kept apart, sometimes because they are unknowingly competing against one another, but more often because the Apple way is to mind one’s own business.” In fact, on joining Apple, it is made abundantly clear that leaking company secrets will lead to termination of employment, and possible law suit.
Another wild departure from the norm that Apple seems to have patented is its ability to function like a nimble start up rather than the large bureaucratic mess it is expected to be. Lashinsky argues that Apple is that way only so far as its R&D is concerned. Various traits of Apple like Job’s autonomy let it evolve in a fashion that restricted the bureaucracy to just the administration. Apple, through the ferocious use of mind-your-own-business-attitude introduced “ideas like the ‘DRI‘ (Directly Responsible Individual).” A notorious ability to be able to pinpoint the man responsible for any and all muck-ups/delays. One more Apple quirk that was also mentioned in Steve Jobs’s biography is “the Top 100 (an annual event where that year’s hundred most influential employees, chosen by Jobs were surreptitiously transported to a secret retreat).”
The book is a fine read and a fresh new take on the company that everyone knows of so well, yet knows so little of. Lashinsky has interacted with scores of Apple employees, ex-employees, executives, and just about anybody else that has spent time with Apple. He combines a unique perspective with thorough research to answer some of the pressing question regarding Apple and its future.
Adam Lashinsky has been the Silicon Valley columnist for TheStreet.com and a Fox News contributor. He currently works as the Senior Editor-at-Large for Fortune magazine and is its lead correspondent in Silicon Valley.
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