Many books have been written on Steve Jobs, of which several are unauthorised biographies. Others analyse his business strategies and how he saved Apple from bankruptcy in the late 1990s. Some examine his leadership and management styles as case studies for business schools and a few even discuss his presentation methods.
All in, there are more than 30 books about him, some written as early as in the mid 1980s, with many written between 2009 and 2011. Presumably the latter titles were published with the knowledge that Steve may not have long to live.
In my ebook library, I have about six books on Steve, who died on Wednesday night. He was 56.
I liked best The Second Coming of Steve Jobs by Alan Deutschman - published in 2000 - because it provides a sneak peek into Steve as a child, college kid, lover, manager and leader. Steve for example likes black and white photos and cultural icons like Albert Einstein.
Describing him as the first businessman rock star, Deutschman also described how Steve put Apple's house in order when he returned to Apple in 1996. Steve spent hundreds of hours on product reviews, deciding which products to kill and which were allowed to live. Then he focused on advertising to make Apple cool again. He hired Chiat Day, the agency that created Apple's advertising in the mid-1980s. Steve got the same creative director Lee Clow who created the Think Different advertising campaign that people see today.
There has always been rivalry between Steve and Bill Gates, the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft. They envied each other, said Deutschman. Steve was the media star while Bill became one of the richest men in the world. Bill shipped buggy products which became incrementally better. Steve was the perfectionist, not shipping until he got it right.
Steve's management style vacillated between seduction and abandonment. Most of the time, he would leave people alone but the one per cent of the time, he would criticise them because of his pursuit of perfectionism. For example, when he chose black as the colour of the NeXT computer, he looked at hundreds of black shades before he picked one.
The second book I liked was Adam Lashinsky's Inside Apple - From Steve Jobs Down To The Janitor, How America' Most Successful - and Secretive Big company - Really Works. This short book - it first appeared as a Fortune magazine article - available on the Kindle book store tries to figure out how Apple turns out successful product one after another.
This is a must read for managers and leaders. Lashinsky describes the weekly meetings that is the 'metronome that sets the pace of the company'. He also talks about the difference between a janitor and vice-president. Janitors are allowed to give reasons for mistakes. Vice-presidents do not have the luxury of explaining why things go wrong. This culture of responsibility is one of key reasons for Apple's success.
Another is the simple organisational structure. There is no matrix organisation. People know who they report to. Only one person is responsible for the bottom line - the CFO. The other key reason is its ability to focus on a few products each time.
But, the book I'm looking forward to is the authorised biography by Walter Issacson. Originally due to hit bookshelves in November, the book is expected on Oct 24. The author interviewed Steve for many hours and he was given access to the executives in Apple.
The wunderkind and enfant terrible that is Steve has ensured that his story be told with all the facts given by him, his co-workers and friends. Steve prepared the last chapter of his illustrious career by finally revealing who he is and how he lived his life.