Fortune goes Inside Apple

Fortune's Adam Lashinsky goes Inside Apple to detail how the world's most secretive and successful computer consumer electronics company is run, from Steve Jobs... down to the janitor. And it's a doozy of an article. Over the course of some 22 pages, we learn:

  • Steve Jobs was not amused by the disastrous MobileMe launch, pulling the team together at Apple's Town Hall and asking: "Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?" "So why the [frak] doesn't it do that?" (iTunes head Eddy Cue was subsequently put in charge of a new, smaller team and charged to fix it.)
  • We hear again how Apple, despite its monolithic size, is run like a startup.
  • Jobs is trying to institutionalize his process to prepare Apple to run without him one day
  • Every Monday, Jobs and his team review the "whole business", and they can turn the whole company on a dime if they have to.
  • Accountability is enforced. Every project has a "directly responsible individual"
  • According to Jobs, the difference between a janitor and a VP is that the janitor can have reasons for not getting something do. "Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering."
  • There's a Top 100 clique -- whose members can change over time -- that Jobs takes on quasi-annual retreats to share his and the executive teams' visions for Apple's future.
  • Apple believes in small groups. iPad Safari was ported by just two engineers.
  • Managers are specialists. Ron Johnson runs retail but Tim Cook controls inventory.

And much, much more. If you're interested in Apple, get the May 23, 2011 edition of Fortune. You can grab the app from the App Store [iTunes link] if you don't already have it, and if you're a print subscriber you can get the issue for free. If not, it's $4.99.