I've finally read Jobs'es biography. The book itself (authored by Walter Isaacson) is almost as famous as the leading character - sometimes I had an impression I was the only one who hasn't read it yet. But this is no more, yesterday I've finished reading (I've even put a short review on Goodreads). And I have some remarks to share with ...

Fridge stuffed with money truly helps

Steve was known as a great innovator who turned everything he has touched into gold. Success chased another success, every idea was a killer that has dominated the market, etc.

Neat, but it wasn't true.

Jobs had his instinct, he was a great salesman, a true genius, but he was able to come up with such breathetaking products as iPod, iPhone or iPad because he was able to spend shitloads of cash he had stuffed in the fridge before, thanks to other products that were not really his own ideas. To name just one of them - in his first period in Apple, he was able to indefinitely tune & reshape first Macintosh, because the company had already a stable financial background based on Apple II (Woz'es masterpiece - first true personal computer).

The funny thing is that Jobs was publically downsizing people who were still involved in Apple II develepment - zero respect for his cash cow...

Great a$$hole is still an a$$hole

The more I was reading, the more thrilled I was. This guys was real jerk, by a capital J. No respect for individual, completely bi-polar (everything was either great or utter crap, nothing in between) - working with such sociopath sounds like a nightmare.

Lying to himself (self-denial), emotional unstability (he was even using crying as a negotiation method ...), obsessive micro-management: do I need really to add more? Honestly, even keeping in mind what he has achieved, I would never, never like to work with such person.

Mr. Agile-or-not?

Jobs was both lean & extremely un-lean in the same time. On one hand, he was clearly obsessed with delivering the best product: not increasing the shareholder value, not bumping up the KPIs, but bringing up something that makes the difference. Reasoning was his key - he was always asking: Why? What for? What's the gain? Does it make sense? Is it usable? Is it better than what's currently present? what's the purpose of that?

But ...

... he was obsessed with his own perfectionism. His chase for the optimal product may have worked in this specific environment (financial capabilities provided by the mother company), but I wouldn't follow the same path if I were you ... Release. And get feedback. Rinse. And repeat.

80+ & counting

Working with Jobs was a true drainage. 60, 70, 80 or more hours of weekly work for several months is sick, pervert & just plainly stupid. There's no surprise that people were tired, they had enough of all that & they were leaving because of burning out (as it was mentioned in the book).

Don't get me wrong - all those products (iPod, iPhone, ..., etc.) - they were astonishing successes - commercially and practically (because they have change the world somehow). But even keeping that in mind, I'd still prefer doing great work with great people in normal conditions (40 hrs per week) to deliver the product later or in a more limited form (MVP - something Steve would despise). It would be much more healthy & I believe it would lead to much better products in the end.

Closed ecosystems

Isaacson has written a lot about that - the struggle between Jobs & Gates is a constant theme in the book. Jobs (as a total control freak) was absolutely convinced that the sufficient (in his opinion) quality can be provided only if all elements of the product (both hardware & software, incl. OS) are under his (Apple's) control (created / developed internally).

Obviously, it:

  • impedes the speed of changes (kills the agility)
  • doesn't utilize the overall potential of community / other companies
  • forces the customer to follow the only, right path, set up by engineers & artists in Apple (of course customer may give up on Apple)

It's totally against what I believe in. And it's totally against the modern IT. Apple still struggles (now in 2014), but personally I believe that Android's & OSS momentum will force them to bend within next few years.

Steve is no more

What will happen with Apple? Bill Gates admitted that Steve's model worked for Apple, but it worked because it was Steve (and his stubbornness & uniqueness) who was forcing it. Now, when Steve's no more and World is changing so rapidly, who will guarantee this model will still work?