Hire Self-managing People

This video is not dated, but it must be from around the late 1980's-1990 time frame when Steve Jobs was at NeXT. I met Mr. Jobs at NeXT at about this time (1989) when they were working on the NeXTCube. We were trying to persuade him to participate in our Best Practice Study we had initiated a few months earlier.

We told Mr. Jobs that we had signed-up 13 major Silicon Valley companies to participate in the study project and that if he participated, he would share in the research findings. He leaned back in his chair, put his feet on the conference table and looked at the ceiling with his hands on his head and said, "Why would I want to learn anything from those 13 stupid companies?"

With that comment the meeting came to an abrupt conclusion. Needless to say, NeXT didn't participate and soon would be sold to Apple, launching the second act of Steve Jobs.

But I always remembered that day and the missed chance to study his secretive methods and practices. Later, when Tony Fadell went to Apple to lead the iPod/iPhone/iPad programs I learned that Tony had used many of the best practices (from the study that Mr. Jobs opted out of) at Apple, practices Tony had learned from us when we worked with him at Philips on the Velo.

There are lots of video clips of Steve Jobs floating around the internet, but I particularly liked this one (above). It is consistent with what we learned during our best practice research (maybe he was right). Finding the right people is the key to building the FTTM organization. I paraphrase his points below:

  • "Hire self-managing people"

  • "Once they know what to do, they will figure out how to do it"

  • "What they need is a common vision, and that’s what leadership is... getting a consensus on a common vision and being able to articulate it so people can understand it"

  • "Hire people that are insanely good at what they do, but not seasoned professionals"

  • "Hire people who are passionate"

  • "Most important job of the CEO is recruiting"