[Crossposted at A Man with a PhD]
Apple’s iTunes Remote application for the iPhone has not been updated in over 8 months because the software was written by just one person, and he is currently busy with other projects, according to a new report which describes Apple as “a huge startup.”
Here is how he describes the way Apple runs things:
Apple doesn’t build large teams to work on every product they make. Instead, they hire very few, but very intelligent people who can work on different projects and move around as needed.
One day you might be working on the Remote app, and the next day you might get pulled on to another project that needs your help.
The engineers on the Mac OS and iOS teams move back and forth between the two projects based on release cycles and what needs to ship next.
That is how we worked at Immunex – whatever was on fire got the bucket brigade approach. we all worked on multiple projects at the same time, allowing us to drop something that was going slow and pick up on something that needed more attention.Once we had gotten our role done, we handed it off to the next member of the bucket brigade and picked up another project.
In order to make this work well, there needs to be constant vetting of the progression by everyone involved. Any bumps in the road can be smoothed over if more eyes are on the prize.
Thus everyone feels a part of a successful project, even if they had a little part. Immunex’s great drug was Enbrel. I had a very small part working on that molecule quire early. While only peripheral to the amazing work done by others, I felt every bit as proud of its success.
Plus this approach keeps smart people interested and helps prevent empire building, which can be a real detriment to the rapid actions a small team needs to make.
Any company basing its success on the creativity of its employees needs to have a management style closer to Apple’s or Immunex’s.