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"At Apple there’s never confusion 'as to who is responsible for what'."

This is a project I run with almost all of my clients - shifting an organic, but dysfunctional, business arrangement into one where everyone knows their responsibility, and the right person does the right jobs at the right time (and for the right cost point).

This is achieved by shifting focus. Most businesses evolve from the top down: when the business owner/s or managers get too busy, they hire somebody new and hand down some of their tasks (usually those that they don't like). We work with the business to break down everything they do (from setting a vision to cleaning the sink - easier to do than it sounds), and then coach them to assign responsibility based on who is the best person for each task, rather than who was hired first.

I find it fun - although anything that involves defining and changing responsibilities is fraught with danger in a business. People who have been 'hiding' behind vague (or non-existent) job descriptions are suddenly found out. I tell clients to expect up to 10% resignations, but most or all of those who leave will have been holding the business back. It takes strong leadership to hold the business's nerve during that period.

I guess my point is: this element of Apple's success is possible for any business. It's rewarding, but requires good leadership.




That's basically how the small startup I'm working with works. We're a total of 4 people, and at this size, and although we have a founder (or founder and a half), we all basically do what's necessary and everything we can.

The founder is very much against defining roles and job descriptions, despite us sometimes being tempted to go down that road. In the end it makes everything so much more pleasant.




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