Steve Jobs always gets it right

Fucking Steve always gets it right. … Steve really always gets it right. I mean it, precisely, like an engineer. I am not joking, and I am not exaggerating. … I didn’t say Steve is always right. I said he always gets it right. Like anyone, he is wrong sometimes, but he insists, and not gently either, that people tell him when he’s wrong, so he always gets it right in the end.

Andy Grove, as quoted in Radical Candor, by Kim Scott.

This is an interesting distinction. Steve Jobs is sometimes hagiographized as the always-right visionary genius, but the truth is more interesting. One story comes to mind: Apple’s decision in 2003 to bring iTunes to Windows.

Jobs was adamantly opposed, at one point shouting that letting iTunes and the iPod run on Windows would only happen “Over my dead body! Never! We need to sell Macs! This is going to be why people buy Macs!”

His team had to battle him loudly, many times to convince him. It wasn’t pretty. Jobs deflected responsibility for the decision. But he finally was convinced that the upside of increasing iPod sales would outweigh the downside of potentially fewer Mac purchases in the short term. So in the end Apple got it right, setting the stage for Apple’s resurgence, the iPhone, and everything that followed. This was the result of the Apple leadership team doing its job and telling Steve Jobs that he was wrong.

If even the most celebrated visionary can be wrong, you can be too, and so can your boss. Have the courage and humility to seek the truth, and the conviction to act.