Published on: May 10, 2011by Kevin Coupe
Yesterday, the management advice from a CEO posted here in Eye Opener was to allow people the freedom to know that if they something stupid, they don;t have to defend or justify it - that “everybody can be and will be momentarily stupid,” and that they need to be able to accept it, admit it, and then move on ... which saves time and money over the long run.
Today’s management advice comes from Steve Jobs, courtesy of a San Francisco Chronicle story about an as-yet unpublished piece in Fortune.
According to the story, Jobs apparently gives new Apple Inc. vice presidents the same speech, telling them that he once asked a janitor why his office garbage can wasn’t being emptied, and the janitor said that it was because the office door lock had been changed, and he didn’t have a key. It’s irritating, Jobs, says, but a legitimate excuse. Because he’s the janitor, he’s allowed to have reasons he cannot do his job.
However, Jobs says, there is a point between the job of janitor and the job of CEO where reasons stop mattering - and the Rubicon is “crossed when you become a VP.”
The message is that executives have to take responsibility for your actions and your failures. Excuses and reasons don’t matter.
Now, this could be read as creating a culture that does not allow people the freedom to fail, a culture that stifles creativity. But at Apple, it seems pretty clear that this is not the case - it is a company that thrives not just on creativity, but on creating game-changing, disruptive technological applications ... and that certainly means that within the halls of Apple, there are plenty of mistakes, miscalculations and failures that the public never sees.
But the story does suggest that Jobs - by all accounts an exacting and often difficult taskmaster - requires that people take personal responsibility for their decisions and actions. They’ve got skin in the game ... which is a pretty good way to get people all rowing in the same direction.
And that’s our Eye-Opener for today.
- KC's View: