Steve Jobs Says, Hire Those People Who Are a Pain in the Butt To Manage

Many big companies who tried to replicate their early success failed because they did not understand this, and Jobs explains why.

Lance Ng
3 min readDec 30, 2021


“When (companies) start getting bigger, they want to replicate their initial success, and a lot of them think… somehow there is some magic in the process of how that success was created. So they start to try to institutionalize ‘process’ across the company. And before very long, people get confused that the process is the content, and that’s ultimately the downfall of IBM.” — Steve Jobs

In an old interview snippet, Jobs explained how he consistently created successful products for Apple by focusing on content instead of processes.

He cited the example of how in the early days of Apple, the staff they had hired from Hewlett Packard “screamed” at him and told him that a mouse would take five years to engineer and $300 (each) to build. He got so fed up he took the project to an outside design firm that got it done in 90 days at a unit cost of $15.

Content vs Process

When asked if this was because the ex-Hewlett Packard engineers lacked professionalism, he explained that based on his experience, it was the fixation with process instead of content that led to this — and ultimately the downfall of many great companies.

Companies that had grown big usually tried to develop a formula for replicating their early success. And with that formula came processes, frameworks and structure. This attracted people who were great at the “management process”, but didn’t have a clue about “content”.

But what is this content that Jobs talked about?

It certainly isn’t the stuff that an article like this is made up of — words and pictures.

One viewer of the video said it took him 10 years to understand what Jobs was referring to.



Lance Ng

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