In the wake of his death, we’ve come to learn even more about Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs’ team building-focused management style. Read how Jobs designed Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA from a team building perspective.
When it comes to Apple’s corporate persona, few companies maintain the level of secrecy and security surrounding how they do business. It is part of their winning strategy for generating such incredible buzz about all of their products and brand. This approach was put into place by Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs, who used his creativity and charisma to sell the Apple brand in such a way that it has managed to transcend that of an electronics brand: Apple has become a cultural icon.
Since his passing, however, we’ve learned more and more about Steve Jobs as a business manager, and how he regarded team building as a critical component of a successful business. One particular detail that is worth mentioning is Jobs’ positioning of departments at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino. Rather than simply designating departments to areas of the campus based on space or convenience, Jobs made sure to position complementary departments so that employees, managers, and directors from those departments would have to walk through one’s another’s turf in order to enter and exit the building.
The idea here was subtle, but genius: it would encourage inter-departmental conversation and communication.
Believe it or not, sometimes it can be just as simple as repositioning coworkers in your business in order to get them talking and working together. In this way, positioning is a key component of team building and team communication. It stands to reason that if the sales department and marketing department are on opposite ends of the building, they might be less likely to communicate and interact. Similarly, if the accounting department is positioned closer to departments that have to be reined in from a budgetary standpoint, they might be more likely to tighten their purse strings.
It remains to be seen if Jobs’ positioning strategy was quite as utilitarian as that — chances are, his rationale was more about engendering creativity and discussion about product development and marketing strategies. And to be sure, Apple’s operations are big enough that this sort of cross-fertilization amongst department may have been much more necessary than in your smaller-sized business.
But when it comes to team building events, a reliable team builder will employ Jobs’ approach in how teams are formed.
If you’ve ever hosted a team building event for your employees, you’ll notice that, if left to their own devices, departments will naturally pull together in forming teams. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — there is a value to having your own teams work together in the context of the event in order to strengthen their everyday work processes. But it is also a good idea to make sure to “shake up” the team structures at some point as well, and put employees from complementary departments together. The idea here is to create new lines of communication and business relationships — not just for the sake of “good feelings” with the company, but to actually facilitate more efficient work processes that can bear out positive results.
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Tags: Steve Jobs