In a rather brilliant Harvard Business Review article “Steve Jobs and the Eureka Myth, Adrian Slywotzky argues that there’s a gap between the founder’s legend of Apple ( “…a small bunch of geniuses that “Think Different”) and the reality of how effin’ hard Apple designers work to make their products.

Here’s the table of Myth vs.  Reality that Slywotzky uses:

eureka jobs.jpg

He says: “Apple would love us to believe it’s all “Eureka.” But Apple produces 10 pixel-perfect prototypes for each feature. They compete — and are winnowed down to three, then one, resulting in a highly evolved winner. Because Apple knows the more you compete inside, the less you’ll have to compete outside.”

I’ve written here about the Founder’s Legends that breathe life into the cultures of Nike, Patagonia, HP and Ann Sloane. I am a big believer in this valuable piece of storytelling.

But is the Founders Legend supposed to be absolutely factual?

Hello? It’s a legend…

But that’s not the point of the Founders Legend. The Legend is inspirational, aspirational, and motivational.

But let’s be clear: your legend won’t make you competitive.

“The glitter you see [as Apple launches its ‘miracle’ products] is not the explanation; look carefully, and the inspiration/perspiration ratio is where it should be. Under Jobs’ leadership, Apple has done 10 times the amount of relevant homework of most companies — internal competitions, supply chain training, endless deal-making, endless recruiting, training, and generating and sustaining employee excitement that you just can’t fake. If others emulated that, all of that, their results would be a lot more like Apple’s. And our economy would start really humming again.”

The lesson here is, build a great legend. But what you say is only a small part of your success. You’ll have to work your ass off to make anyone notice you in the first place.

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