Fortune's "Inside Apple" Shows Apple's Inner Workings

Fortune's Adam Lashinsky, after months of dogged reporting and research, recently put together a story called "Inside Apple." Appropriate, seeing as he goes at length to reveal Apple's cultural core; This is a company for whom failure isn't an option.

Apple enjoys hit product (iPod) after hit product (iPhone) after hit product (iPad). So what happens when something fails? Well, to give you an idea, this is what happened to the MobileMe seam after the spectacular failure that was MobileMe's launch in 2008:

According to a participant in the meeting, Jobs walked in, clad in his trademark black mock turtleneck and blue jeans, clasped his hands together and asked a simple question: "Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?" Having received a satisfactory answer, he continued, "So why the fuck doesn't it do that?"

For the next half-hour Jobs berated the group. "You've tarnished Apple's reputation," he told them. "You should hate each other for having let each other down."

In a sense, Jobs is hoping to place the weight of Apple and Apple's success and reputation on each employee's shoulder. The whole company is basically built on that sort of clear accountability. They even have a term so everyone knows who's responsible for what: 'DRI' which stands for "Directly Responsible Individual". Furthering Jobs desire to hold people accountable is a story Jobs always tells newly minted VPS about the difference between a janitor and a VP:

The janitor gets to explain why something went wrong. Senior people do not. "When you're the janitor," Jobs has repeatedly told incoming VPs, "reasons matter." He continues: "Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering." That "Rubicon," he has said, "is crossed when you become a VP."

It's a really great read to see how Apple runs their company—like how its still so startup-like, how there's a top 100 group, how it remains nimble and so much more. The whole report is in the May 23, 2011 issue of Fortune. If you already subscribe to the mag you can download to your iPad for free, if not it's a $US4.99 for the issue. [iTunes via Fortune]


    That his horrifying, if true. If you introduce terms like DRI and blame into a corporate atmosphere, people will become fearful of taking chances and will never admit mistakes for fear of being named and shamed (rightfully so).

    Plenty of health institutions have a 'come clean' protocol where after a mistake, if freely admitted, you'll be defended by the company in case of litigation. This allows people to identify problems in the system early to correct them and minimise chances of it happening again, it also stops shit from floating downstream.

      I agree. It is horrifying. Personally, I'd never work for Apple due to stories like this.

      However, the company is one of the worlds most successful so Jobs must be doing something right?

    What genius! The problem with 99% of white-collar workers is that they don't know how to take responsibility for their actions. As such, they have no pride in their work and are content to blame failure on everything and everyone but themselves (perhaps a product of their upbringing). I see no argument against Jobs' ideology as it has served Apple well for more than 3 decades.

    I see no problem with this "culture of accountability". I think it's ok to wear the blame for failure, just as long as the flipside is upheld (i.e. credit/recognition is given for success)

    Damn I want Jobs at my workplace. So sick of the "not my problem" mentality.

    This is the perfect way to break down this ifnroamtoin.

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