1993-03-30: The Macintosh Way

The Macintosh Way (1989)

by Guy Kawasaki (1954-)

Kawasaki describes the characteristics that can make a company a great success, as Macintosh was. The fundamental advice is “Do the right things, and do things right.” This is naturally easier to say than to follow. The book is full of anecdotes, examples and pointed exercises to illustrate his points, and entertaining to read. I would be surprised if anyone actually adopted his advice; and even more surprised if anyone succeeded because of it.

It is interesting to compare Kawasaki’s insights to the tenets of the Total Quality Movement. They have some features in common: customer-orientation, empowering all employees. Yet Kawasaki takes a very hard-line approach to competition. He recommends manipulative techniques for dealing with corporate partners and competitors, perhaps not as seriously as it sounds in print, but enough to reduce his credibility and impact. I think other books by more positive-sounding authors will have more influence.

Since there are not that many people running Macintosh development programs, the greatest appeal of the book is probably the anecdotes about the development process and personalities at Apple’s Macintosh division. However, most of the people mentioned have left Apple now, and this becomes a nostalgia thing, with no connection to the reader.

The book is well-written, and along with Kawasaki’s columns in MacUser, indicate that he has something to say and can say it well. Probably the most important thing I ever got from him was the advice to buy Brenda Ueland’s “If You Want to Write”.

P.S. I emailed Kawasaki the gist of these comments, and he responded within a day, recommending the book Uncommon Genius by Denise Shekerjian.

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