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Hug your innovation teams! Steve Jobs would

By Emilio De Lia, Instructor, Management & Global Business.

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a genius and maybe overbearing in pursuit of his vision. But how can we understand how he got the “A players” he surrounded himself with to work together and co-create? Jobs knew that the lone inventor working in a garage could no longer be the source of new marvels of technology.

The new breakthroughs are integrations of many technologies crafted by teams of experts from many disciplines. Innovation was for Jobs a team sport. Jobs created the conditions where teams of highly expert people could share a drive for perfection. Jobs' teams were both formal well-crafted selections of members with a target in mind and ad hoc spontaneous gatherings united by their passion for a cool idea.

Many commentators say he was abrasive but his contrariness made his people comfortable with disagreement and able to stick to their point until a better idea was created through interaction. One commentator mourned the loss of Jobs because he believed that you can’t teach others what Jobs could do because “God creates innovation.” Jobs knew better. He knew that “teams create innovation” and he showed us how to create and lead innovation teams.


Professor De Lia is the Executive Director of the Network for Innovation Expertise Development (NIED) at Rutgers Business School. The mission of the Network for Innovation Expertise Development (NIED, pronounced "need") is to help businesses and other organizations become expert at product and service innovation.  NIED’s sole focus is on the management capabilities needed to generate streams of new products and services over time within and across businesses. 

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