To be sure, Apple (during its two incarnations with Steve Jobs at the helm) is an outlier to the financially driven quarterly results of most corporations in both practice and utter abnegation of employee democracy. See my review of Walter Issacson's wonderful "Jobs" if you need any additional background on the supreme-one-of-a-kind nature of Jobs as leader/despot.
But it would be too easy to dismiss Apple as the lighting strike of a unique personality. And, it is in those transformative areas of generalization that "Inside Apple" is a story less of "business success" but rather one of "aspirational success," which in many ways is available to all of us as individuals, organizations and communities. Apple, except in the period of Jobs' absence when it nearly tanked, is a business not designed to make profits but to make wonderful products. The zen of Jobs is that when you focus on making wonderful products, profits will follow -- check out Apple's recent capitalization.
Wonderful products (versus profits) taps into the emotional, which in turn unleashes focused passion and commitment. In communities, we can garner that same level of transcendence in the aspiration to achieve truly great things. Also, when the target is on product versus profit, there is a natural alignment of tasks necessary from design to logistics. It is profoundly telling that in Apple designers, engineers, retail employees did not have P&L responsibility -- because worrying about cost would have prevented the elegant solutions for which Apple is known. Rather, it was the responsibility of the C-level to make sure there was enough money to be able to afford "delight."
Contrast this to how constrained we approach every issue in community. It is no wonder we achieve, at best, status quo because we have never given ourselves the clarity of outcome that every Apple employee takes for granted. Those communities that target truly exceptional results are constantly amazed how surely the resources to achieve those aspirations (like profits to Apple) flow to them.
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