By James Santagata
Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
It seems like the peddling of the old standby Myths & Memes is on the rise once again in the Valley. As this is often a lagging indicator of both the Valley's, and even the wider Tech Industry's financial state, it tells me that we're in a very frothy if not overheated market since people are now letting their hair down and apparently gleefully throwing themselves onto the politically correct bandwagon. But they should be careful, lest they find themselves thrown beneath it.
Still, it's my guess that whatever problems or disasters may rear their ugly heads in the future due to blind belief and adherence to these Myths & Memes, the folks most involved are betting that they'll be able to quickly paper over it with the waves and waves of cash that are flowing so freely now.
But not everyone believed let alone followed these Myths and Memes and amazingly, they didn't fail or turn into a pumpkin or a toad.
What a perfect example of a person who broke every one of these Myths and Memes?
Try Steve Jobs. Yep, Steve Jobs. And Apple Computer under his guidance during his second tour of duty.
The fact is, no one can deny that, under Steve Jobs, Apple was a smashing success. All the metrics are there: market cap, profits, amazing hit product after hit product. iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone. You name it.
And for the record, I am by no means an Apple fan nor am I a Steve Jobs / Apple Computer apologist. I'm simply a reality-based thinker and I call it the way it is, not the way I wish it were.
That said, I'm a very serious student of Steve Jobs and I'm not afraid to look at what really made him successful. I can tell you, it wasn't following the Valley Myth and Memes and it wasn't being politically correct.
In fact, Steve Jobs did the exact opposite of what most pundits and social engineers are preaching. And the reason it worked for Steve Jobs is because Steve Jobs and his communication style was perfectly aligned with the way the world and humans work.
What is most interesting, though perhaps very disconcerting to the social engineers among us, is how Steve Jobs did it.
We're told that if a person studies hard at the "right" schools, gets a "good" education and makes the "right" connections they'll be well positioned for success.
Beyond that we are told, especially in the Valley, that an organization will perform best when it is openly transparent (both internally and externally), when there is diversity, when there are women in senior leadership positions and when we have an open environment of respect and perhaps kumbayahism in the office.
Going even further, we are told that we should be investing and building all kinds of new tech that people have never seen. And by "new tech" I mean core tech, not making sexy cases, new form factors or tinkering with some incremental derivative product like the iPod.
And yet, if we look at Steve Jobs and his management style during his absolutely, amazing and record smashing second run we find something that is completely at odds with what the pundits say is necessary for success:
1. No diversity at Apple (as defined by the politically correct sense of skin pigmentation / reproductive organs).
2. No women in senior leadership positions (see also: Apple Vows To Find Women & Minorities For Board Directors).
3. No Indians in senior leadership positions (see: Why Indian presence in Apple's senior management level is next to nil).
4. Few minorities (see: Apple Facing Criticism About Diversity Changes Bylaws).
5. Steve Jobs didn't go to a "top" university.
6. Steve Jobs didn't even graduate from a four-year college.
7. Steve Jobs was not transparent. At best, he could be characterized as a benevolent dictator, at worst a tyrant.
8. Jobs/Apple was not open -- you leak new Apple products, you'd be hunted down & sued (see: Apple Sues To Stop Product Leaks).
9 Jobs/Apple could be downright nasty, even engaging in potentially illegal activity, if the "no poach" collusion allegations are borne out.
10. Steve Jobs even used his money to find a loophole in California vehicle code so that he wouldn't have to get license plates and had an apparent penchant for parking in the handicap spaces.
And yet again, while Steve Jobs just turned a blind eye to all of these supposed business and organizational "requirements" his results were phenomenal. Can we in any way argue with Steve Jobs' success? It seems that few prominent members of the Valley tech community question his success so I guess not.
Next time, we'll dig a bit deeper and explore why Steve Jobs was so successful, time and time again. The results may surprise you.
Lastly, as quick exercise, we should ask ourselves is Apple really lacking diversity? Or is and has Apple always been diverse but in a more mature manner, such as defining "diversity" with regard to value, thought patterns and productivity rather than with regard to skin pigments and reproductive organs?.
It can easily be argued that a man and women studying the same subject matter from Princeton (not to pick on any school) will be more alike than two men, one of which studied electrical engineering and the other who studied marketing at two different schools in two different states or countries.
Think about it.
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