Tag Archives: responsibilities

Steve Jobs on Excuses

Steve Jobs by Getty

Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky:

Jobs imagines his garbage regularly not being emptied in his office, and when he asks the janitor why, he gets an excuse: The locks have been changed, and the janitor doesn’t have a key. This is an acceptable excuse coming from someone who empties trash bins for a living. The janitor gets to explain why something went wrong. Senior people do not. “When you’re the janitor,” Jobs has repeatedly told incoming VPs, “reasons matter.” He continues: “Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering.” That “Rubicon,” he has said, “is crossed when you become a VP.

This makes sense.

A junior employee at the bottom of the chain of command (such as a janitor) can have a legitimate excuse for why something was not done. It’s plausible that the janitor does not have the authority to get the key he needs, so it is not the janitor’s fault.

Whereas a member of management (such as a VP) has no excuse. If the key is missing, the VP has authority to find the person with the key, force open the door, hire a locksmith, etc. The VP needs to problem solve and cannot explain away things that were not accomplished as the VP has sufficient authority to get it done.

It’s interesting to note that Jobs is quoted using the term ‘reason’ and not ‘excuse.’ The former being legitimate and the latter being a scapegoat. That is, the former is only available to people at the staff level who are not sufficiently authorized/empowered.

(via MacStories via HN)