This tweet by Steve Case ( @stevecase ) struck home for me, because in the aftermath of Steve Jobs' death I've been thinking a lot about O'Reilly, wanting to make sure that we streamline and focus on the stuff that matters most.
"My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products," Jobs told [biographer Walter] Isaacson. "[T]he products, not the profits, were the motivation. [John] Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It's a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything."
Jobs went on to describe the legacy he hoped he would leave behind, "a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now."
"That's what Walt Disney did," said Jobs, "and Hewlett and Packard, and the people who built Intel. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That's what I want Apple...
My experience as a manager – and in particular, as the leader of a company – has been shaped by two quotes that have helped frame my thinking about that role. One is from Harold Geneen, who oversaw the growth of ITT into the first modern conglomerate:
“The skill of management is achieving your objectives through the efforts of others.”
This view of management suggests the classic manager, somebody who figures out what needs to be done and who needs to do it. I appreciate this concept -- because the skill of management is indeed achieving your objectives through the effort of others. But I’ve also worked within the framing of another quote, this one from Edwin Schlossberg, about writing.
“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.”
The idea behind this – that leadership entails a responsibility to create an opportunity for others -- has really shaped my thinking because most of my leadership experience has been in running a company. And that role is largely about seeing the potential in people and projects, and creating a context...