Steve Jobs: Being Right Isn’t As Important As Winning

Renegades weren’t such a problem to Steve Jobs. In fact, he respected those who stood up to him if they knew what they were talking about on the Macintosh team. Often if they disagreed with Jobs, they realized that they could ignore Jobs’ commandments, and in so doing effectively spare Jobs the embarrassment of making a mistake or a bad judgement. One such incident involved the disk drive called Twiggy which was defective in the Lisa. The alternative would be a 3½ disk drive which was designed by Sony. The dirty Tokyo disk drive factory in Sony did not impress Jobs and he wanted to go with Alps disk drive which had made a clone of the Sony product. So Jobs decided to do a deal with Alps (a competing manufacturer), but Bob Belleville (behind Jobs’ back) decided to hire Sony in secret without Jobs’s approval.

Belleville hired Komoto who was tasked with building a disk drive for the MacIntosh from 1982-83, but Belleville did not want Jobs to know about this backup plan for the disk drive collaboration taking place at Alps, the Japanese company. Whenever Jobs came through the Macintosh office, Komoto was quickly escorted into a closet, or under a desk where he would have to hide for a few minutes at a time. In May 1983, the Alps team in Japan failed to deliver their disk drive, and asked for an additional 18 more months to work out the problems. It was a disaster as Mark Markkula grilled Jobs about what he was going to do about the lack of a disk drive with the MacIntosh launch potentially being pushed back to 1985? Bob Belleville saved Jobs by interjecting that Bob had a disk drive ready thanks to his secret work without Jobs’ approval. Jobs appreciated this renegade behaviour, and swallowed his pride. So we can infer that winning is more important than being right in management.

This is an analysis based on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and other sources of research. Enjoy.

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