I’m still grinding my way through the Steve Jobs biography. I’m around half-way through it as I’m writing this.
One of his motivating passions was to build a lasting company. At age twelve, when he got a summer job at Hewlett-Packard, he learned that a properly run company could spawn innovation far more than any single creative individual. “I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organize a company,” he recalled. “The whole notion of how you build a company is fascinating. When I got the chance to come back to Apple, I realized that I would be useless without the company, and that’s why I decided to stay and rebuild it.”
That struck me.
In many ways my experiences of late echoes this. One of my main complaints that led me to switch jobs is about structure. This is hard to describe to someone else. Mr. Jobs seems to have captured the dichotomy of at once empowering people while personally holding them responsible for their performance.
A company requires organization. A structure provides the framework to grow in both responsibility and authority. People that can lead, should lead. This allows you to use people strategically, not tactically.
So, what’s the difference?
Tactically is giving the best person a project and having them work on it. It might be a good way of getting something done in a very short term.
Strategically is different. It lets you use a person as a force multiplier. Someone can delegate responsibility to multiple people and work on several different projects at once. They can make everyone around them better.