Sometimes Micro-managing Works

Sometimes micro-managing works. That doesn’t mean it is a good strategy to replicate. If you benchmark Apple you might decide that you should have a tyrannical obsessive involved CEO who is directly involved in every detail of products and services. After all Apple is now the second most valuable company in the world with a market capitalization of $324 billion (Exxon Mobil is the top at $433 billion) and a huge part of that is Steve Jobs.

Nice quote from How to beat Apple

Apple products & services that Apple does well are the ones that Steve Jobs uses

An interesting point, and really it doesn’t matter if it is completely true it illustrates a point that Steve Jobs is the rare leader that helps by being completely involved in nearly every detail. And at the same time he provides strategic leadership rivaled by very few others. But if you try to benchmark this (simplistically – as most benchmarking is done) you will fail. This works with Steve Jobs and maybe a handful of other people alive today. But with most leaders and organizations it would fail completely.

On another point Jason Kottke makes, I would normally suggest the opposite approach:

Openness and secrecy. Competitors should take a page from Apple’s playbook here and be open about stuff that will give you a competitive advantage and shut the hell up about everything else. Open is not always better.

I think you may well be better off doing the opposite and countering Apple’s secrecy with openness. It would depend on your organization, but, I think you might be better off trying to exploit Apple’s weakness instead of trying to do what they do well. Now things are never this simple but on a cursory level I think that is where I would look.

Google now has a market cap of $171 billion, Apple is almost double that – just 3 years ago Apple first exceeded Google’s value.

Related: Leadership is the act of making others effective in achieving an aimThe CEO is Only One PersonJeff Bezos Spends a Week Working in Amazon’s Kentucky Distribution CenterRespect for PeopleDee Hock on Hiring

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5 Responses to Sometimes Micro-managing Works

  1. Your point reminds me of something I learned when I was an English teacher: I could copy lesson plans from other teachers perfectly and they’d fail in my class. Those plans worked for *them* because of the alchemy between their personalities, teaching styles, and the exercises. But they didn’t work for me because I’m different. Similarly, one comedian can’t do another one’s jokes because they’re just different people.

    We have to understand key underlying principles and then adapt them to our own unique situation and skill sets, otherwise we’re doomed to being a second rate copy at best, and a total failure at worst.

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  3. George says:

    Micro Management my not be good at all, but if there is a strong person behind it, it could really work great. To get this to work you have to know a least every detail of your company and of your product. It is interesting that this kind of managemend can really lead to a huge success.

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