Steve Jobs on the MobileMe fiasco and other anecdotes from Cupertino

A new feature on Apple details Steve Jobs, his management style, and even how Apple plans to handle life post Jobs

Fortune's Adam Lashinsky has a fascinating feature on Steve Jobs in its latest issue. Though the feature is currently only available as an in-app purchase from Fortune's iPad app, MacStories details a number of the more interesting stories about Steve Jobs, his management style, and even how Apple plans to handle life post Jobs.

Now everybody knows that Apple's history with cloud-based initiatives have been less than stellar, and no time was that more clear than during Apple's klunky MobileMe rollout a few years ago. Server down time and extremely slow loading times had many wondering how Apple let a product that seemed beta at best roll out to the masses - for a $99 fee no less.

The MobileMe fiasco was of course not lost on Steve Jobs who reportedly told members of the MobileMe team that they "should hate each other for having let each other down."

At one point, Jobs asked his team what MobileMe was supposed to do. Upon receiving an answer he quickly fired back, "So why the f*** doesn’t it do that?" Jobs even invoked the name of trusty ally Walt Mossberg - who was critical of MobileMe - to drive home the point that the MobileMe rollout was a flop.

"Mossberg," Jobs said, "our friend, is no longer writing good things about us."

Apple was forced to publicly apologize to its users and subsequently offered subscribers a free month of service as a gesture of good faith.

Following the MobileMe mess, Jobs reportedly fired Rob Schoeben who had previously headed up the MobileMe initiative and replaced him with Eddy Cue who had previously been in charge of the iTunes store.

Also of note is a speech Jobs reportedly gives to newly appointed VPs to illustrate that their new role does not afford them the excuses they might have previously been used to. Lashinksy calls the speech the "Difference Between the Janitor and the Vice President."

Jobs imagines his garbage regularly not being emptied in his office, and when he asks the janitor why, he gets an excuse: The locks have been changed, and the janitor doesn’t have a key. This is an acceptable excuse coming from someone who empties trash bins for a living. 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.

The point being - VP's better deliver.

To that end, it might be a good time to point out that former IBM executive and Apple employee Mark Papermaster (the one Apple had to go to court to hire) didn't last long at Apple because, rumor had it, he wasn't prepared for the level of responsibility Apple demanded from someone in his position. More broadly speaking, Papermaster reportedly left this past August due to cultural incompatibility, with the NY Times chiming in that he "didn't appear to have the type of creative thinking expected at Apple and wasn’t used to Apple’s corporate culture, where even senior executives are expected to keep on top of the smallest details of their areas of responsibility and often have to handle many tasks directly, as opposed to delegating them."

Another interesting tidbit is that Jobs is actively preparing the company to continue on its trajectory even after he leaves.

Steve Jobs hired dean of Yale School of Management Joel Podolny to run the Apple University, an internal group also featuring business professors and Harvard veterans that are writing a series of case studies to prepare employees for the life at Apple after Jobs. These case studies focus on Apple’s recent business decisions and internal culture, they are exclusive to employees and taught by top executives like Tim Cook and Ron Johnson.

The entire article is worth a read and should be available for free on Fortune's website soon. In the meantime, it's now available for the Kindle via Amazon.

Get it while it's hot, folks.


Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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