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The janitor and the CEO story inspired by Steve Jobs illustrating how reasons stop mattering somewhere between the janitor and the CEO

Reasons stop mattering

I've read that Steve Jobs used to tell a story to new VPs about a janitor and a CEO. If you were the janitor and were asked to clean an office, it's reasonable to have not cleaned it if you found the door was locked and you didn't have the key. However, somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, the reasons or excuses for why something happened or couldn't be done stop mattering. It probably isn't your fault that the system went down, or that you didn't have access to the office, but as a leader it's your responsibility to make things happen and mistakes are now your responsibility too.

The sketch is not meant to downplay the role or attitude of janitors in any way or say that this is the difference between janitors and CEOs. Here's more on how Steve explains it.

The story is a nice example of the accountability ladder.

I learned this from the excellent Julie Zhou.

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