When Steve Jobs returned to Apple and produced the "Think Different" ads and the iMac in his first year,
it confirmed what most people already knew: that he could be creative and a visionary.
He had shown that during his first round at Apple.
What was less clear was whether he could run a company.
He had definitely not shown that during his first round.
Jobs threw himself into the task with a detail-oriented realism
that astonished those who were used to his fantasy that the rules of this universe need not apply to him.
"He became a manager, which is different from being an executive or visionary,
and that pleasantly surprised me," recalled Ed Woolard, the board chair who lured him back.
His management mantra was "Focus."
He eliminated excess product lines and cut extraneous features in the new operating system software that Apple was developing.
He let go of his control-freak desire to manufacture products in his own factories
and instead outsourced the making of everything from the circuit boards to the finished computers.
And he enforced on Apple's suppliers a rigorous discipline.
When he took over, Apple had more than two months' worth of inventory sitting in warehouses, more than any other tech company.
Like eggs and milk, computers have a short shelf life, so this amounted to at least a $500 million hit to profits.
By early 1998 he had halved that to a month.