Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has been speaking about communication within companies, the possibilities presented by cloud services, and his role at Fusion-io since the death of Steve Jobs in a new interview published this week.
Ideas can come from anyone
Forbes' contributor and NetApp executive Cesar Orosco recently spoke with Wozniak, who said that managers should be open to ideas from anywhere within your company. "The way to be open to them is like our original HP values, when I worked at Hewlett-Packard: good communication from top to bottom."
"Don't make a rule that you can only talk to your boss, who will talk to his boss, who will talk to his boss," Woz continued. "The people at the top should just be totally open to talking with anybody – up and down the organisation."
Wozniak suggests that it's often a junior person in a company that has the best idea. "Engineers at the bottom are sometimes very important. They're the heads that have the ideas that might drive your company with a great product for the next ten years," he said.
Wozniak worked full-time at Apple until the late 1980s, but, as of 2009, he became 'chief scientist' at Fusion-io, a company that specialising in data solutions.
"Fusion-io has a first mover advantage, but now it's going to boiled down to the sharp brains that thought out the different way that Fusion-io came up with," said Wozniak. "Are those brains still going to be leaders in shaping the future? I would predict that they are."
"In the early days of Apple we had almost no risk. It's a growing market, growing out of absolutely nothing. So when you're starting out in a brand new field and you have a first mover advantage, everything you touch is gold," he said.
Made up title
When asked how he got the title of 'chief scientist' at Fusion-io, Wozniak said: "I made it up as a really kind of general category."
"My life has become extremely busy since Steve Jobs passed away, with an awful lot more travel, speaking, and opportunities to meet different people," he explained. "Fusion-io has been flexible with my travel and getting to meet lots of people around the world."
Wozniak said that, when first started at Fusion-io and was assigned the 'chief scientist' title, he was more involved with meetings, sales calls and engineering ideas, but his schedule is now too busy to be able to do those things.
“I love this company so much. I speak about them everywhere I go - any chance I get. But I don’t really have time to be working on the planning of the future right now and I really want to. We’re working on ways to bring me in more fully in the near future.”
Previously, Woz has voiced concerns about cloud services, suggesting that they'll be "horrendous" and could have "horrible problems" in the next five years, but the Apple co-founder seems to have changed his tune.
During this latest interview, Wozniak praised the cloud, stating that "nobody should oppose it". "Cloud computing has shown a lot of ways that it lowers cost, in terms of total resources that have to be applied to guarantee all the jobs get done," he added.
Forbes will be publishing the second part of Orosco's interview with Steve Wozniak next week.