The Day I Became Steve Jobs
It happened just recently. I am both a manager of a team of software developers and a co-owner of a fabulous artisan baking company with my executive chef daughter. Both of these “full time” jobs pull every string in my collection of strings, buttons, levers, and knobs. Each of these positions oversee a group of makers and craftspeople who rely on skill, intuition, and hands-on mastery of their work for each product they touch each day.
As a manager of software development, I have pulled myself up from my boot-straps from starting out in information technology at 37 years old forging a possible new chance in life from my previous experience in manufacturing. I did not start out in IT in programming, I was a help desk and PC “care” giver who was trying to learn both programming and networking in a jack of all trades type shot gun approach.
Going after this with God, guns, and glory I was able to develop a work approach to development based on growing a deep toolbox of development skills across several platforms, a tendency to out work the senior programmers, and the drive to pursue never settling for less in ability, quality, and output.
This brings me to the day I became Steve Jobs.
Here is the back story to the back story. In both endeavors, the internal drive for quality, standards, and reaching beyond expectations in software development and the new position of business manager for a start-up baking company, a hyper-drive method of work methodology was taking a hold of my bones, brains, and being. In my efforts of building scale-ability at the baking company a business operations and execution document was in constant editing to get what was in my head out into something physical. Quality, consistency, methods, and best practices are stars of the document. These are also deep tenants of my software development faith as well.
After having a month of errors, mistakes, poor quality deliverables, and customer complaints on all sides and fronts, I had my catharsis. My internal drive became physical and outward. I lost it. Better said, I lost it, the keeping of my internal drive for quality as internal and it came out as external.
I became Steve Jobs. The Steve Jobs I was familiar with from articles, movies, and books. The one Steve Jobs which I understood. For many years I have driven myself in programming to be better, faster, higher quality, and designing solutions that became pivotal to the businesses I had worked with. Drive, drive, drive. Then the big bang happened. The last complaint I was willing to just listen to. It was about a product from the bakery and how poor the quality was reported.
I drove to the bakery after work and everyone was gone. I pulled a chair from the cafe and stood on it and erased the bakers whiteboard. Taking an erasable marker, I wrote the following two quality standards which exist as a statement of operations in the bakery execution document. These also exist as a way of life in my development life.
This is what I wrote in large letters for the team to see:
“Customer satisfaction is either 100% satisfied or it is a failure.”
“The customers should never see our mistakes or have to endure them at any level.”
This was the moment I became Steve Jobs. This was the moment I mentally, physically, and emotionally I will never accept less than 100% in any product made by myself or any of my teams. I will not accept it, nor will we ship it.
I now understand Steve.