Byron's Babbles

Lead Like A MacBook Pro!

Posted in Coaching, Education, Leadership, Learning Organization by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 26, 2012


I have written many posts about collaboration, flattened hierarchy, and the learning organization, but I got to thinking this week about another component of my leadership style that fits in with these concepts. The ease of use of the Mac and integrated nature of the applications. When we developed the SWELL (Smart Worldwide Effective Learning Lab) at Lebanon High School we switched to an all Mac operating platform. We were able to get the Apple folks to let us demo a set of MacBook Pros to see if they were what we needed. My idea was to combine project-based learning with modern tools like the Mac to help students develop the high-level thinking and skills they would need in today’s world.

I remember when the Apple representative was setting up the demo machines he made a couple of comments that would forever change my view on technology and leadership. He said: “With a Mac what used to take three or four steps with a pc will only take a single step with the Mac!” And he asked: “Do you want to teach how to use the computer or be project-based?” Of course I did not want to teach computers and the thought of a single step process was incredible!

Since this post is not really about technology it will suffice for me just to say that he was right and I could concentrate on teaching content, not computer applications. I wanted to measure learning chiefly by the quality of work the students create.

Because the Mac is so easy to use, even students new to computers were able to create projects that demonstrated their learning. And because using the iLife and iWork suites is so intuitive — with skills transferring easily across applications — students were able to showcase their projects in professional Keynote, Pages, and iWeb presentations that integrated text, video, and sound; in sophisticated movies edited in iMovie and Final Cut Pro; and in engaging podcasts and soundtracks created using GarageBand. The fact that steps are eliminated because of the integration of programs made it all very easy for the students to learn.

It’s just like an environment where employees are empowered to create, collaborate, and do their jobs. They are able to showcase their abilities without the barriers of hierarchy. As a leader I prefer to organize the world in a lateral fashion, seeing people on an equal plane. This enables an integration of everyone just like that of the applications of the MacBook Pro. I believe in a lateral playing field where everyone leads from where they. This enables everyone to do their jobs effectively without added steps of approval, but with the collaboration of others. Just like when I drag a picture directly from iPhoto into Pages. Both are independent programs with different roles and responsibilities, but integrate easily when needed.

The flat organization supervises employees less while promoting their increased involvement in the decision-making process; Just like the MacBook Pro needs less computer application knowledge and allows the user to be creative. It also removes excess layers of managements improves the coordination and speed of communication between employees; Just like the Mac platform involves fewer steps, fewer levels of management encourage an easier decision-making process among employees.

So, next time you sit down to the computer think about your leadership style. Do you want your computer empowered to carry out many tasks in the least amount of steps or do you want lots of hoops to jump through. Use this lens to think about how to empower those you lead to be the most effective.

2 Responses

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  1. Norris A. Chandler said, on January 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Under certain circumstances, the instructor can do little, if anything, to inspire in students a readiness to learn. If outside responsibilities, interests, or worries weigh too heavily on their minds, if their schedules are overcrowded, or if their personal problems seem insoluble, students may have little interest in learning.


  2. Work Like a MacBook | Byron's Babbles said, on August 18, 2016 at 9:57 am

    […] process means fewer errors and delays. I touched on this some in my 2012 post Lead “Like a MacBook Pro.” Click here to read that post. In that post, the comment is made, “With a Mac what […]


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