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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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The Challenge of Finding New Team Leaders

When Apple Computer bought Steve’s company NeXT, bringing Steve back into Apple, it was only months before Steve was put in charge as interim CEO, facing him with the incredible challenge of getting Apple back on course to become competitive again.

One of his first and most urgent tasks was to find the best possible team leaders to help him with the urgent rescue effort. How did he pick people he could rely on?

His choice for hardware engineering wasn’t difficult. At NeXT, Steve had recruited Jon “Ruby” Rubinstein, whose impressive credentials included two degrees in electrical engineering from Cornell, a master’s in computer science, experience working for Hewlett-Packard, plus design work on supercomputers at another company. When Apple purchased NeXT, Steve recommended Ruby to the then-CEO, Gil Amelio.

With Apple floundering and many outside observers pronouncing that the company might not survive, many people would have turned the job down—anybody would think twice about signing on with a company that might go under at any time. Ruby later explained, “Apple was the last innovative high-volume computer maker in the world.”1 He accepted the challenge.

Since Steve had always put more emphasis than almost anyone else in the business world on the external appearance of the products, it wasn’t a surprise that he would look for first-class design talent. Great product design would be a key element for getting the Apple products selling again. ...

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