Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Inside Apple" culture of secrecy in Cupertino

A few anecdotes about the secrecy introduced at Apple have been published by the author of "Inside Apple" on sale next week.

Adam Lashinsky discusses some original practices, such as when any new project starts, and others who may ring familiar to some readers as working in companies governed by strict rules of confidentiality.

The author, who has met with former Apple employees, for example, says that some have seen a sudden one day be erected walls to their floor and doors put "windows were pacified and some pieces had none”. New access rules are enacted, and nothing enters or leaves the room without good reason. A rule of silence that covers course and especially outside the workplace. Friends and family are also kept in the dark. Phill Schiller, the head of marketing, said subject themselves to the discipline with his children while Apple was working on his future gadgets.

" It is almost certain that you have no idea what is happening, and it's not as if you were to ask questions. If you have not taken into confidence so it's literally not your business. Moreover, your badge, which lets you enter specific areas before the new facility, no longer, works at these locations. All you can guess is that a top secret new project is underway, and you are not in the loop. End of story. ".

Steve Jobs himself was careful to remind his employees regularly in their duty, recalled one of them "Any disclosure of the contents of this meeting will lead not only to dismissal but to prosecution to the fullest extent of that will make our lawyers "Jobs warned. These measures are accompanied by their attendant rumors of layoffs occurred because so and so and-so would be too talkative. True or false, no matter, these "hearsay" involved in their own way to maintain this atmosphere of secrecy.

All companies have secrets, but Apple's "everything is secret" says Lashinsky, and this discipline is instilled from the first steps of new employees "For these new recruits, the learning of confidentiality begins before you even know what building they will work. Many employees are hired for positions called "fictitious", whose nature is revealed in detail after their arrival. "Doe, recruited out of university says he knew his job was related to the iPod, but it did not go beyond, and Apple has not said anything before his hiring is effective.

In the first orientation meeting for new employees (which entitles you to a free lunch for the occasion, the only after everyone pays), they are grouped "You sit down, and you start with the usual round to see who does what, "says Bob Borchers, a product marketing manager at the launch of the iPhone and the iPod before it," And half the people can not tell you what they do, because they were hired on a confidential project.”

This does not mean that Apple causes people to isolate themselves. Another said that when it comes to places everyone to scramble to put your Mac to join the network and intranet. At first people have sufficient technical background ... but if something goes wrong it's also a way to go and meet his new colleagues. But blocking access to information of what the other groups around, Apple ensures a way that everyone remains focused on its area and its objectives.

The security officials at Apple also play their part. They remind newcomers that the announcement effect of a product through a secret immeasurable value in terms of buzz and media coverage "is equivalent to millions of dollars," explained one of those responsible to Bob Borchers. And in case of leakage - intentionally or not - the sentence is clear and immediate redundancies.

It thus lends Phill Schiller to compare the launch of a new Apple product in the first weekend out on the screens of a Hollywood blockbuster. The interest is huge in the first few days, forming a peak of attention Schiller often likes to illustrate, and is not to fan the surprise or suspense surrounding the announcement. The analogy with the film is also found in the queues at the Apple Store that recall the queues forming in front of the rooms are released when such new aspects of Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.

Another reason, equally logical business plan, this will take a new secret is not to hurt sales of existing products. Apple could afford to unveil the iPad a few months before its launch as it opened a class in its range and had no equivalent competitor, but also remembers that Tim Cook cited the effect of rumors around 5 iPhone sales worse than expected iPhone 4 in the summer. Not to mention the need for innovations out of sight of concurrence. The author points out that Job had once referred to the founder of Disney in this desire to preserve an aura of mystery about Apple. Walt Disney believed that the "magic" associated with his business would suffer from too much attention by the public and customers behind the scenes of his business.

Jon Rubinstein was once described in terms quite raw in the organization of Apple "We have cells, such as a terrorist organization. Everything is based on what each one only needs to know. " Emerging from these remarks, Adam explains, "To discuss a topic at a meeting, you must be sure that everyone in the room is accredited on the subject, that everyone was aware of certain secrets." What makes each employee a piece of a puzzle whose image is known at the highest level of the hierarchy.

"Everyone knows that the perfect integration between the various parties is essential to achieve this magic," says a former "It's a culture of excellence," said another, "You do not want to be the weak link. There is an intense desire not to take the company down. "

The contrast with other companies is striking Lashinsky writes citing an engineer "When you interact with people from other companies, we see in them a relative lack of intensity. At Apple, people are so involved that when they go home at night they do not leave behind the company. What they do at Apple is their true religion. "

"Almost no one describes the fact of working at Apple as" fun "," continues the author "In fact, when asked if Apple is a place" fun ", the answers are remarkably consistent" People are incredibly passionate about the great stuff they are working on, "said one former employee. "There is not a culture of recognition and celebration of success”. All about the work" said another, "If you're a crazy passion for Apple, its magic. It also a very difficult environment. ". A third evaded the question, "Because people are so passionate about Apple, they are consistent with the mission of the company." "

Highly paid jobs, but the average of what is practiced in the Valley and other sources of satisfaction in being part of the company occur every day, says a former employee marketing "Sitting in a bar and see that 90% of the people around you are using a device that your business has conceived, it is something cool and it is priceless.”

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