Book Review: Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney
|Original Title:||Inside Steve’s Brain|
Comparing to a similar book from a same series (about founders of Google Larry Page and Sergey Brin) this book is better written and actually gives you a deeper dive into Steve´s management style, how he leads the company, and some tangible advice.Reason for that can also be that Apple has (or had with Steve Jobs) different dynamic of work compared to Google, as Steve Jobs was very involved in development of hardware and software. He tested everything on him first, he was customer and user zero.
What I really appreciate about this book that almost every chapter ends with a set of (about ten) advices based on Steve Jobs´s experience and management style, summarizing the previous chapter.
What I take from this book
Focus on areas in which you can excel, as a person, as a manager, as a team and as a company. Do only things you can do and delegate everything else. Focus is power to say No. To be able to decide which task and project you should do and which to delegate, cancel or leave for another day. Apple used to make about five hundreds of different products and variations and after his return to Apple, Steve Jobs reduced it to four. Once they felt confident in this core, they added some more.
And when creating anything, involve everybody, involve people from different parts of business. Engineers, developers, sales, marketing, customer support. Good idea can come from anywhere.
Do the bare minimum, stop the snowball effect with the functions. Simplicity is one of the advantages of Apple products.
Nothing was perfect from the beginning, things had to be improved. Build prototypes and versions, iterate and track and map the changes and decisions why it is exactly like that.
Build the team
Surround yourself by the best people possible. Get rid of anybody who does not meet your standards. And be cautious about the size of the team – more people does not automatically mean better and more work done.
Get rid off people who just nod. Support discussions and arguments, that is a great way to improve the product and its functions, justify them or find the ways to promote them.
As a manager you need to also lead the team. You need to appreciate people when they do an excellent job and yell at those who will mess it up. You need to find a balance between carrot and stick to motivate your team to move forward.
Mouse and graphic user interface was originally developed by Xerox. Unfortunately for them, their managers did not see its potential and it was collecting dust in the research laboratories. (Before that, computers were controlled by typing commands or navigating through list of files with your arrow keys. Just google MS-DOS.)
I think this is a good book for anybody who is planning to start a new role of manager to lead a team or project, or somebody who is about to hire a first employee and wants to start planning and figure out their management and leadership style, team or company values, rules and principles. And because people are not usually preparing themselves for such roles, I would highly recommend to read it exactly for that reason as it might give you a little kick to start actually thinking about your upcoming role.
And as I mentioned, after every chapter there is a summary in form of tips and advices for you as manager based on Steve Jobs, so if you are in hurry, read at least the notes.
Is this book a keeper?
No. Even though it is beneficial to re-read the book, it is not a book for a good night reading. I would read it again only if you are preparing for a new role of a manager.