Jobs and Ive: The Duo that Rescued Apple

The blueprint of Apple's success: A deep dive into the radical changes brought about by Steve Jobs and Jony Ive that rescued the company from near bankruptcy.

Jobs and Ive: The Duo that Rescued Apple

Monday July 03, 2023,

2 min Read

In 1997, Apple was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, with an unfocused array of 40 products. The situation was so grim that the tech magazine Wired depicted Apple's logo with a crown of barbed wire and the single word "PRAY"​.

Steve Jobs Steps In

Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder, returned as CEO after 12 years away. Immediately, he had a pivotal conversation with Jony Ive, the head of industrial design at Apple. This conversation would chart a new course for the company​.

Jobs asked Ive, “How often do you say no?” This question was central to Jobs' philosophy of focus, which involved turning down even phenomenal ideas if they didn't align with the company's core goals.

A New Vision

Jobs outlined a focused product line for Apple, represented by a 2 x 2 grid: "Consumer" and "Professional" vs "Portable" and "Desktop." This marked a radical shift to just four core products.

Steve Jobs' 2x2 grid is a simple quadrant layout with two rows labeled 'Consumer' and 'Professional', and columns labeled 'Portable' and 'Desktop'. This grid streamlined Apple's product development by focusing on four core areas. The grid helped Apple engineers and managers concentrate their efforts, preventing product or resource overlap. The naming convention was also simplified, with 'i' denoting consumer products and 'Power/Mac' representing professional products

Restructuring and Revitalising

Jobs quickly restructured the company, letting go of all the business unit managers in one day and merging separate functional departments into a unified organisation. This move eradicated the silos that were hindering Apple's progress, forcing the company to work as a cohesive entity​.

Jobs' leadership approach emphasised three critical elements: deep expertise, thorough attention to detail, and a willingness to engage in collaborative debate​.

Jobs aimed to lead experts with experts and advocated a culture where everyone could openly share views and discuss potential decisions' implications.

Turning the Tide

Following the pivotal meeting, Jobs and Ive started collaborating on the iMac, which marked the beginning of Apple's revival. Their focus on a few high-quality products, while rejecting all others, set the company on the path to recovery​.

Today's Success

Today, Apple is the world's most profitable company, valued at over £2.1 trillion. This impressive turnaround demonstrates the power of focus, strong leadership, and the ability to say “no” to anything that doesn't align with the best ideas.