Steve Jobs: “You have to let them make a lot of decisions”

1 minute read

“And are people willing to tell you ‘you are wrong’?”
“Ah, yeah…”
“I mean, other than… snarky journalists”
“On yeah, we have wonderful arguments.”
“…and you win them all?”
“Oh no, I wish I did! See, you can’t…! If you wanna hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions, you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don’t stay.
“But you must be more than a facilitator who run meetings. You obviously contribute your own ideas…”
“I contribute ideas sure, why would I be there if I didn’t?”
— Steve Jobs talking with Walt Mossberg at All Things D Conference

For me this is one of the best parts of this short excerpt from the famous interview with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at All Things D. In these two very short minutes he gives a lot of good management lessons on how to manage teams.

As from the quote above, he tells how to manage great people: let them make a lot of decisions. This is important because hiring the best people isn’t enough if they aren’t able to express themselves and yes, make errors. In the long term the trust you put into these people will convert to a higher value, they will grow more, they will be trusted more, they will do a better job.

He also tells about the fact that apple is “organized as a startup” and “has no committees”. This seems a separate topic, but in the end it’s the same: it’s about decision making again. Because if you trust one person to make a decision, you don’t need a committee to make that decision.
This is very different from holding a meeting: if you’re responsible of something, you will have the needed meetings that are necessary for you to take the best decision possible, no less, no more (your time is precious). So that’s the difference between a good meeting and a bad meeting.

“Teamwork is dependent on trusting the other folk to come trough with their part without watching them all the time.”

There’s a lot in these two short minutes.