It’s About People: How to Tell if You “Get It”

With Steve Jobs resigning as CEO of Apple, there have been a plethora of posts and articles on it already.

The Wall Street Journal has Steve quotes.  There is one I want to point out:

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” [Fortune, Nov. 9, 1998] (HT to SmoothSpan Blog)

This comment came about one year after Jobs came back as the CEO.  Notice his emphasis:

  • People you have
  • How you’re led
  • How much you get it

This last point hit me.  “How much you get it.”  Get what?  Here is my take.

Gas allows a car to go, but it does not determine what the car does or how useful it is.  Gas can be put in to an AMC Gremlin or into a Maserati.  Even more important than both the gas and the type of car is the person who drives it and those who ride in it.  They are the ones who make all the decisions of where to go, how to get there and how quickly or slowly they will drive.  All of their decisions are based on the type of car they are driving, the others in the car, the amount of time they have and the purpose they have to drive somewhere.

When we focus on the money in the organization, we have focused on the gas.  Definitely a major factor, but it only gets us where we want to go.  With this view the possibilities are limited, because money is limited.

The capacities of people are unlimited.  They have the ability to do amazing things, including working out the money part.  If we fail to work with the people as much as we ought, we have a narrow view of the possibilities, and thus can’t “Get It.”