Steve Jobs is being held alternately as an icon of management and a cautionary tale. Ben Austen’s thoughtful article in Wired draws the contrasts. With the need for excellence comes a certain amount of stress. You don’t usually bring your best game unless the pressure is on and sometimes even a skillful manager will create that pressure artificially. Humanely, but artificially. On the other hand, consensus style decision-making has created dishonest environments of polite mediocrity in corporations. It’s an epidemic that’s hurting everyone. There has to be a middle way, somewhere between the two extremes.
When do you do your best? Under pressure where everybody lets everything hang out or in an environment of politeness?