Is Your Team Like Rocks in a Tumbler?

Author: Jaime Garispe

I am part of a fantastic key executive Vistage group who brings in speakers from all over the world to promote professional growth and our speaker yesterday (Dave Nelsen) presented on the lost interview from Steve Jobs. All Akins employees are encouraged to engage in continuing education and learning and one of our core values is to “Humbly Pursue Excellence.” You can see all of our core values here.

There is no denying that Steve Jobs was a phenomenal leader and there are so many great ideas and strategies that we can learn from and apply to our own businesses. In particular, he had a lot of ideas on A teams and why and how they work. He talked about this in “The Lost Interview”- an interview he gave in 1995 that was lost in transit until it was found in a garage a couple of days after Jobs died.

The idea is this: Great teams of A players are like rocks in a rock tumbler. These individual rocks go into the tumbler and through the process of bumping up against each other with friction, noise, and conflict, they become beautifully polished rocks. Ideas and people are made better through having disagreements and conflict. Ideas and people that go unchallenged are never as good as they could be. Many people are uncomfortable with conflict and avoid it at all cost, but Jobs would say this: Pursue truth over harmony.

Jobs had another idea here. When he returned to Apple for the second time it was 90 days from bankruptcy. He looked at all of the open projects there and cut 70% of them- 70%! His reasoning was that to truly polish an idea, you need to focus on it. He met with his leadership team every year to ask, “What are the next 10 things we should be doing?” From that list, he would then cross the bottom 7 off so that the company would only focus on 3.

Our leadership team meets once a month and this month we will be discussing a couple of questions:

  1. How can we polish our products and services? How can we polish new ideas?
  2. What are the next 10 things we should be doing? Which are our top 3?

The full lost interview is available on Netflix and Amazon or you can watch the clip with the rock tumbler analogy here: