Further revelations from Adam Lashinsky’s forthcoming book about Apple describe the culture of secrecy and strong work ethic at the Cupertino campus.
Inside Apple: The Secrets Behind the Past and Future Success of Steve Jobs’s Iconic Brand is due to be released next week and lifts the lid on what it is actually like to be an Apple employee. An extract published in Fortune this week describes the level of competence expected from new starters.
“A highlight of an employee’s first day at Apple is the realisation that there’s no one to help you connect your newly-issued computer. The assumption is that those smart enough and tech-savvy enough to be hired at Apple can hook themselves up to the network.”
However, they’re not completely dropped in at the deep end, Lashinsky reveals. New workers are assigned an ‘iBuddy’ – a fellow employee outside of their immediate team to act as a kind of mentor, explaining how things are done at Cupertino.
Obviously, there’s a strong emphasis on secrecy. Visitors to the campus can buy a t-shirt bearing the words: ‘I visited the Apple Campus. But that’s all I’m allowed to say.’ Employees, particularly engineers, tell Lashinsky that it’s best not to discuss your work with outsiders at all. Leaking secrets to the press is, unsurprisingly, a sackable offence.
“People working on launch events will be given watermarked paper copies of a booklet called Rules of the Road that details every milestone leading up to launch day. In the booklet is a legal statement whose message is clear: If this copy ends up in the wrong hands, the responsible party will be fired.”
There’s even a culture of secrecy among employees – one describes it as the ultimate need-to-know culture, where those working on a project don’t reveal any details to any other employees not involved in that particular project. New hires are not told specifically what they are going to be working on until after they start working for the company.
Despite a strict hierarchy, there are some non-management figures who carry a lot of clout within the company, Lashinsky says.
“Rank doesn’t always confer status at Apple. Everyone is aware of an unwritten caste system. The industrial designers are untouchable, as were, until his death, the cadre of engineers who had worked with Steve Jobs for years, some dating to his first stint at Apple. A small group of engineers carries the title of DEST, distinguished engineer/scientist, technologist. These are individual contributors with clout in the organization but no management responsibilities.”
Earlier this week, Macworld reported that Lashinsky believes senior vice president of Apple’s mobile software division Scott Forstall is the most obvious candidate to be the next CEO of Apple.
Inside Apple: The Secrets Behind the Past and Future Success of Steve Jobs’s Iconic Brand is due to be released on 25 January and will cost £12.40 through Amazon.co.uk.