“It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.” This quote, made back in the days of the original Mac development team, says a lot about how Steve viewed people and selected them for teams. It also speaks to the kind of team and team behavior he admired. To build a team, all organizations seek the best and the brightest people, particularly for their innovation and new product development organizations–that’s not what’s in question here. By seeking out the pirates, Steve took the idea a big step further.
A pirate can function without a bureaucracy. Pirates support one another and support their leader in the accomplishment of a goal. A pirate can stay creative and on task in a difficult or hostile environment. A pirate can act independently and take intelligent risks, but always within the scope of the greater vision and the needs of the greater team.
… Steve’s message was: if you’re bright, but you prefer the size and structure and traditions of the navy, go join IBM. If you’re bright and think different and are willing to go for it as part of a special, unified, and unconventional team, become a pirate.
Pirates with passion
Steve looked for the pirate in all his team members. But it wasn’t enough just to be brilliant, and it wasn’t enough just to think different. Steve’s pirates had to have the passion, the drive, and the shared vision to want to delight the customer with a perfect, game-changing product. Steve was constantly worried that as Apple grew, it would become like other big companies: tied up in bureaucracy, with a hundred reasons why something couldn’t be done. Pirates with passion would not let this happen. In keeping with this idea, Steve wanted his pirates not only for the product development organizations, but also for routine business functions like accounting and even his administrative assistants.
… Steve Jobs placed a lot of value on having a diverse organization, and on choosing individuals with diverse backgrounds and sets of experiences, like his own. Steve never finished college–not even his first year. But he was able to synthesize his own interests and experiences, from electronics hacking to Zen Buddhism to calligraphy, add three heaping scoops of passion, and become what he became. He felt that others should do the same.
When selecting team members, Steve looked for the same breadth of background and experiences. A good technologist is a good technologist, but one with interests in philosophy, the arts, literature, and such really moved the needle. He also liked entrepreneurship and signs of success at other endeavors. People who show the ability to get things done in other fields, to synthesize their experiences, and to take a broader view of the human experience are more likely to be the pirates that Steve was searching out. In a March 2011 iPad event, Steve told us: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”
Source: An HR Lesson From Steve Jobs: If You Want Change Agents, Hire Pirates — Fast Company (https://www.fastcompany.com/1665840/an-hr-lesson-from-steve-jobs-if-you-want-change-agents-hire-pirates)
Fast Company’s Source: What Would Steve Jobs Do? How the Steve Jobs Way Can Inspire Anyone to Think Differently and Win (https://www.amazon.com/Would-Steve-Inspire-Anyone-Differently/dp/0071792740/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326831596&sr=8-1)