In 1992, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs talked business to a class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Someone was kind enough to record that session, and now it’s online (thanks to Deliberate Think, via YouTube) for your perusal. If you’re a tech pro interested in managing people or starting your own company, it’s worth cycling through all the clips to catch Jobs’ nuggets of wisdom.
At this stage in his career, Jobs had been fired from Apple and was running NeXT, which built high-end workstations for the research and education sectors. This was his “in the desert” period before he rejoined Apple and transformed it into one of the world’s largest companies, and it’s clear from these clips that he’s very much in a period of philosophical transition.
When one student asks him what he learned from Apple, Jobs takes a very deep pause and finally says: “I now take a longer-term view of people.” Instead of rushing to fix a fresh problem, he adds, he takes the time to ensure that the person making the mistake actually learns from it:
At another point, he talks about managing a team of managers. “I’ve always felt that the best way is to get everyone in a room and talk it through until you agree,” he says. At NeXT, he had a “policy team” of eight people who tried to select the really hard decisions, and work together until all eight agreed on a solution. There’s not that many things that one team needs to decide:
The young Jobs also can’t resist swiping at Microsoft’s Windows: “The worst development environment that’s ever been invented.”
In his talk, you can see the kernels of Jobs’ management philosophy when he retook the reins at Apple, including an intense focus on the long term (as opposed to the next-quarter thinking embraced by many tech companies) and prioritization of a few key initiatives instead of many. He also highlights the need for a strong developer community, something that would later prove pivotal to the growth of the iPhone and iPad ecosystems.