Plan Execution: From an Apple Sr. V.P.

Jay Elliot served as the Senior Vice President of Apple Computer, responsible for all corporate operations, including HR, Facilities, Real Estate, IT, Education, and Pacific Rim Sales, plus corporate business planning, reporting directly to Steve Jobs, chairman of the board. Also, as a member of the Macintosh organization, Jay helped Steve create the Macintosh computer from development to introduction. During his tenure at Apple, sales grew from $150 million to more than $3 billion.

I chatted with Jay on 3-3-2011.


My ear piece rang with clutter when Jay Elliot picked up the phone. Dogs barking. Crackling sounds that left me wondering if a hurricane just made landfall in California – and a voice that eventually said, “Can I call you back in ten minutes?”

Ten minutes later, after the usual greetings, I heard something about exterminators, dogs and chaos.

From that platform a conversation launched that spanned over 30 years and positions in three of the world’s great companies, ending with Steve Jobs and Apple.

Leadership Freak (LF): Many people would die for a chance to lead at IBM, Intel, or Apple. You’ve been at all three. What did people like Andy Grove and Steve Jobs see in you?

Jay Elliot (JE): I think they saw someone that was:

  • Articulate
  • Able to execute a plan
  • A person able to build strong allegiances with people on his team

He chuckled like he did many times during our chat and said it doesn’t hurt that I’m 6’5”.  It doesn’t hurt that I was an athlete and that I’ve been leading since I was a kid.

LF: Talk to me about executing a plan.

JE:  There are several components to executing plans. Here are a few.

  • Execution begins with vision. You have to know where you are going.
  • Build a frame-work around your vision that includes schedules and deadlines.
  • Create expectations. Consistently let everyone know where you want to go. Paint a picture and keep it in front of everyone.
  • Prepare people for meetings. Don’t trap or embarrass people during meetings. Publish your agenda the day before. Clearly articulate what you expect, where you want to go, and what it’s going to take to get there.
  • Maintain relevancy.  Make sure everyone knows that you know what’s important.


What are the key elements of effective plan execution?

Jay Elliot is an entrepreneur and author of, “The Steve Jobs Way: ileadership for a new Generation.”