What HR can learn from Steve Jobs
Game changer. Visionary. Legend.
When describing any other man, these words would stand tall. However, these words don’t do justice to the man who birthed such revolutionary products such as the Macintosh computer, iPod and the iPhone. Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an entrepreneur, inventor and co-founder of Apple. His resume includes over 330 patents as inventor or co-inventor, oversight of one of the most profitable companies in American history and claim to an indelible mark on not only business leadership theory but also modern pop culture.
While Steve Jobs was busy spearheading one of the most dynamic companies in recent history, he was also creating a culture worth emulating. In the book Rework by fellow game changers 37 Signals, they talk about how every product creates a byproduct. In creating one of the influential and recognizable brands on the face of the earth, Steve Jobs and Apple also created a compelling example of organizational culture for HR professionals and executive leadership to follow. Here, summarized in quotes from Mr. Jobs throughout the years, are some of the ways that HR can learn a thing or two from Steve Jobs.
Purpose over possession.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” [Steve Jobs, May 25, 1993]
Money/profit should not be your main motivating factor.
“You know, my main reaction to this money thing is that it’s humorous, all the attention to it, because it’s hardly the most insightful or valuable thing that’s happened to me.” [Steve Jobs, Feb. 1, 1985]
Love what you do and let it be contagious.
Interviewer: We were warned about you: Before this Interview began, someone said we were “about to be snowed by the best.”
[Steve Jobs smiling] “We’re just enthusiastic about what we do.” [Steve Jobs, Feb. 1, 1985]
Talent [that get’s “it”] matters.
“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” [Steve Jobs, Nov. 9, 1998]
Invest your way to success in spite of economic downturn.
“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.” [Steve Jobs, May 1999]
Embrace creative brainstorming.
“The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient.
“But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.
“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. [Steve Jobs, Oct. 12, 2004]
Encourage employees to find their “sweet spot.”
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” [Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]
What other business/HR principles have you seen Apple implement that deserve attention?