Archive | January 2012

My take on Inside Apple

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I just finished reading Adam Lashinsky’s new book, Inside Apple. It’s very good.

Lashinsky’s subtitle for the book is “How America’s Most Admired – And Secretive – Company Really Works”. I was captivated from start to finish and Lashinsky’s analysis is great, but if you’ve been following Apple heavily for several years, you aren’t going to be shocked by the information or the conclusions. This is not a treasure trove of leaked secrets from the infamous Apple University management training program. This is a well thought out collection of insights with a well chosen set of supporting material. A good amount of that supporting material is new (or at least new to me).

If you normally read as much as you can about Apple’s business practices, and you want to see the whole picture in one place, you’ll like this book. It’s a very quick read and Lashinsky does not over-explain. You will come across tidbits that you’ve never heard before. If you do not know much about Apple’s internal culture but are a fan of Apple products and you want to hear how those products come to market, you’ll like this book.

“We had a few weeks to find a wedding on a beach and to get it shot, edited and approved by Steve. The tight time frame allowed for now margin for error.” – Alessandra Ghini on prepping for the iMovie HD reveal

The first 7 chapters each focus on a characteristic of Apple’s business practices. These chapters highlight ways that characteristic has helped Apple, while carefully noting how it impacts Apple’s employees, partners, contractors, suppliers, competition, customers and the press. For instance, Apple’s leadership model and internal secrecy help it create efficient teams, and fulfilling work, but the author’s sources did not describe working at Apple as fun. These 7 chapters are “Rethink Leadership”, “Embrace Secrecy”, “Focus Obsessively”, “Stay Start-Up Hungry”, “Hire Disciples”, “Own Your Message”, “Overwhelm Friends/Dominate Foes”.

“While each store is distinctive, Apple’s architects work with a limited vocabulary of design elments; only three materials, for instance – wood, glass, and steel – are used for store interiors. That’s how you know you’re in an Apple store regardless of location.” – Adam Lashinsky

Chapters 8 and 10 (“Plan for After Your Successor” and “One More Thing”) deal with Apple’s post Jobs strategy, including the preparations to ensure Apple’s values will remain intact, thoughts on the leaders involved and challenges that Apple-Post-Jobs will face. Lashinsky showed great restraint in saving most of his speculation about Apple’s future for these two chapters.

Chapter 9 (“Inspire Imitators”) takes a look at other companies, some whose leaders came from Apple, some not. The idea here (I think) is to suggest that we can learn about Apple’s business practices by monitoring companies who will leverage practices and/or personnel that came from Apple.

I’m not a heavy reader. It’s extremely rare that I’ll read a book in one sitting. This one kept me hooked start to finish – I could not put it down. The stories in “Own Your Message”, and the Apple Store details in “Overwhelm Friends/Dominate Foes” were particularly informative and fun.

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