Steve Jobs Book Summary: I Wonder if Yukari Iwatani Kane Should Be Afraid of the Ghost of Steve Jobs?

Hola Todos!

In the previous post, I more than suggested that Tim Cook is not afraid of the ghost of Steve Jobs.  After reading all the reviews, I wonder if Yukari Iwatani Kane should be afraid of the ghost of Steve Jobs?  If anyone could figure out a way come back from the dead and haunt someone, Steve would.

Let’s just say that Yukari Iwatani Kane was not kind to Apple and Company in her book “Haunted Empire” about the post-Steve Jobs era.  Apple CEO Tim Cook called it “nonsense” and I knew she would show up as a talking head on CNBC. Yukari Iwatani Kane reacted “surprised” by the comment and said “I must have touched a nerve.” As, John Gruber of Daring Fireball interpreted:

Somehow I doubt she was surprised by her conclusions. As for why Cook saw fit to comment, sure, it could be because her book hit painfully close to home. Or, it could be that it truly is nonsense. Reviews thus far clearly suggest the latter.”

I’m still debating whether I’m going to pick up the book and give it a good read but for now, here’s a few “Haunted Empire” book summary links:

-Philip Elmer-DeWitt – Apple 2.0 Blog 

-Seth Weintraub – 9to5mac.com

-Rene Ritchie – imore.com “Haunted Empire review: It’s the book about Apple after Steve Jobs that’s the real horror story

-Jason Snell – Macworld

 

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

Yukari Iwatani Kane Has it Wrong – Tim Cook is NOT Afraid of the Ghost of Steve Jobs

Hola Todos!

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and that is truly a wonderful thing. Within the Apple blogs, Wall Street Journal Apple beat reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane is getting slammed for her new book Haunted Empire (see Philip Elmer-Dewitt’s Apple 2.0 blog).  The basic premise of the book is: Apple is doomed, Steve Jobs was Apple, since his death Apple has been less innovative, and once Apple runs out of iOS, iPhone, and iPad steam, it will become a shell of it’s former glory.

In my eyes, Yukari Iwatani Kane is a very smart reporter.  She knows this is the dominant storyline – myth – mantra – or whatever you want to call it in the business press and if she wants to sell a truckload of books, this is the best storyline to go with. The zealot Apple fans will go nuts, the blogosphere will blow up, and she will be on endless cable TV shows (CNBC – start warming up that chair as your talking heads LOVE this storyline) from here to eternity as she will always be called to argue against Apple. If you look at this story from her perspective, this is the most profitable angle to write an Apple book, regardless if it’s factually correct.

To be direct, I could not disagree more with the Haunted storyline.  In other words, I believe in the significantly less profitable storyline and I have been writing about it for some time: Tim Cook is NOT afraid of the Ghost of Steve Jobs.  For instance:

-February 7th, 2014 – Steve Jobs Was Wrong About the Beatles

“I am optimistic on Apple’s future, as I believe Cook is unafraid of ghost of Steve Jobs.  While Forestall’s ousting was clearly a major indicator of Tim’s willingness to do what is best for the future of Apple, it is also a major indicator that Tim does not envision himself as just the torch carrier of Apple’s past. Beyond the October 2012 senior management shakeup, there are other indicators as well such as, Apple’s corporate social responsibility in China, the disbursement of dividends, taking on debt, and charitable giving just to name a few.  Cook knows the Apple of the past cannot be the growth engine of the Apple of the future. If the rapid and radical update to iOS 7 is any indicator, I am optimistic that Apple will not be resting on its laurels in the Tim Cook era; Cook wants the tension to be healthy, the collaboration among the band leaders to be strong, and most important, the songs to be amazing for years to come.”

Similar thoughts could also be found in:

-June 27th 2013 – Apple Social Responsibility in China: An Update

-June 11th 2013 – Apple 2013 WWDC Round-Up: Welcome to the Post-Steve Jobs Era

February 26th 2013 – Is Apple Cursed? An Intriguing Conversation…

October 5th 2012  – The Legacy of Steve Jobs: One-Year Out…

All of the links above argue strongly against the premise of Haunted Empire. In fact, if a journalist were to do their homework, the biggest nugget into the psyche of Tim Cook was expressed in a 2009 quarterly earning call with financial analysts. It was Tim Cook (a full two years before he would replace Steve Jobs as CEO) who best articulated Apple’s modus operandi:

“We believe we are on the face of the Earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.  We are constantly focused on innovating.  We believe in the simple and not the complex.  We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.  We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.  We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.  And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.  And I think, regardless of who is in the job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well” (Isaacson 2011, pg. 488).

I understand that it will take much more than a few posts from a small blog like DigNuggetville to change the tide and shift the dominant logic of the business press to think differently. However, all is takes is one new product launch in 2014 – a new product that was clearly not on the drawing board during the Steve Jobs era and I expect that Haunted tide to slowly shift in the opposite direction.  Luckily for Yukari Iwatani Kane, she released Haunted Empire a few months before WWDC 2014 because I have hunch that she will need brush up her debating skills.

Something to follow in 2014…

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

The Life and Times of Steve Jobs: Happy Birthday

Hola Todos!

If Steve Jobs were still alive today, it would be his 59th birthday.  To reflect of the life and times of Mr. Jobs, here’s a few nugget worthy links:

-Perhaps his best talk ever: the 2005 Stanford Commencement speech

-Steve Jobs Legacy: Inspirational Leadership 

-A history: the development of the iPhone

-A recent one from Dr. Dan-o: Steve Jobs was wrong about the Beatles

 

All neat stuff to check out today…

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

 

 

 

Steve Jobs Was Wrong About The Beatles

The Beatles were four of Steve Jobs’ favorite musicians; perhaps only Bob Dylan could rank higher. Jobs confirmed this fact at the end of the famous 2007 All Things D Steve Jobs/Bill Gates interview stating, “I live my live though either a Beatles or a Bob Dylan song” (1 or 1a). It was one of his life’s works, despite all the legal turmoil he experienced with Apple Corps (the music publishing arm of the Beatles), to finally get the Beatles on iTunes in 2010.  Yes, the Beatles were a passion of Steve Jobs; so much so that on more than one occasion, he likened his management philosophy to that of the Beatles.  While he was right about so many things throughout his career, Steve Jobs was wrong about the Beatles.

The following paragraphs will first outline Steve Jobs’ management philosophy and then detail two fatal flaws in his Beatles worldview.  The article will conclude with a glimpse into Jobs’ true intent with his “brutally frank” nature and how Apple has adjusted in the post-Jobs era under Tim Cook’s leadership.

 Steve Jobs’ Beatles Management Philosophy

Perhaps the best exemplar of Steve Jobs’ Beatles management philosophy was expressed during a 2003 60 Minutes interview (2). In brief, Jobs said:

“My model of business is the Beatles.  They were four very talented guys who kept their negative tendencies relatively in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than sum of its parts. And that’s how I see business.  Great things in business are never done by one person; they are done by a team of people and we’ve got that here at Pixar and we’ve got that at Apple as well.  So that’s what lets me do this. Well you know, when the Beatles were together, they did truly brilliant innovative work and when they split up, they did good work but it was never the same.  And I see business that way too.  It’s really always a team.” 

Jobs was a master storyteller as any of his keynotes or the 2006 Stanford graduation speech will attest. Many of his stories had reoccurring themes, although Jobs often retold these parables with slight variations. In 2004, Jobs’ Beatles management philosophy resurfaced in an interview with Fast Company journalist Brent Schlender (3):

“My model of management is the Beatles. The reason I say that is because each of the key people in the Beatles kept the others from going off in the directions of their bad tendencies. They sort of kept each other in check. And then when they split up, they never did anything as good. It was the chemistry of a small group of people, and that chemistry was greater than the sum of the parts. And so John kept Paul from being a teenybopper and Paul kept John from drifting out into the cosmos, and it was magic. And George, in the end, I think provided a tremendous amount of soul to the group. I don’t know what Ringo did.”

While Ringo may have got short-changed in this version of the story, one can see some common themes in Jobs’ Beatles metaphor.  First, the team is stronger than the individual as the sum is greater than the parts. Second, individuals may have bad tendencies and there is a need for those negative tendencies to be kept “in check.”

The most interesting variant, as well as, the most unique, can be found in Robert X. Cringely’s 1995 “Lost Interview” (4).  After a back and forth conversation on product development and the evolution of an initial concept to final product, Jobs says:

“…when I was a little kid, there was a widowed man that lived up the street and he was in his 80s and he was a little scary looking and I got to know him a little bit – I think he might have paid me to mow his lawn or something.  One day he said, “Come into my garage I want to show you something.” He pulled out this dusty old rock tumbler with a motor and a coffee can and a band between them and he said, “Come out with me.”  We went out to the back (yard) got some rocks – some regular old ugly rocks.  And we put them in the can with a little bit of liquid and a little bit of grit powder and he closed this can up and turned this motor on and he said, “Come back tomorrow” and this can was making a racket while the stones were (banging around).

I came back the next day and we opened the can and we took out some amazingly beautiful polished rocks.  The same common stones that had gone in, through rubbing up against each other, creating a little bit of friction, creating a little bit of noise, had come out these beautiful polished rocks.  And that has always been my metaphor for a team working really hard on something that they are passionate about.  That it is through the team, through that group of incredibly talented people bumping up against each other having arguments, having fights sometimes and making noise, and working together they polish each other and they polish the ideas and what comes out are these really beautiful stones.” 

Even in this early version of Jobs’ Beatles management philosophy, some common themes reoccur; team over the individual, the sum is greater than the parts, and there needs to be some tension or conflict to achieve the best result.

Two Fatal Flaws

There are two fatal flaws in Steve Jobs’ Beatles management philosophy: first, Jobs only viewed the Beatles from a fan’s perspective, that is, looking from the outside in. The second fatal flaw is that “keeping each other in check” can equates to… “It’s OK to be an asshole to other people.” Each of these fatal flaws will be discussed in turn.

The opposite perspective of outside in, is naturally, the inside looking out and even a causal Beatles historian would say that keeping each other “in check” or the existence of a “healthy tension” among the “Fab 4” would be a gross understatement, particularly in their later years.  In a Jobsian worldview, strong tension, heated discussion, and/or multiple disagreements among the leadership team would eventually produce a result that would be significantly better than if everyone had just sat around and blindly agreed with each other.  The Beatles did have a healthy tension during their earlier albums, particularly between John and Paul, but that tension went unchecked, turned toxic, and eventually stifled collaboration among the four Beatles leading to the band’s break up.

Once the Beatles grew beyond their chart-topping, pop-friendly albums, the boys from Liverpool created three albums, namely Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper that can easily be described as “greater than the sum of its parts.”  In other words, at this time in the band’s history, the Beatles were still collaborating as a team and it was rare to have a song completely dominated by one member of the band.  At that time, there was a healthy collaborative tension and the Beatles pushed each other to create the most cutting edge music in their field.

Unfortunately for the fans, the health tension did not last, turned toxic and the Beatles stopped working as a team.  While Pepper can be listed in the “the sum is greater than its parts” category, the landmark album represented a turning point in the history of the Beatles.  In multiple interviews describing the milestone album, George and Ringo confessed that their involvement  was not the same as previous Beatles works.  In other words, Paul’s or John’s individual dominance, as well as the tipping point from healthy tension to unhealthy tension, was the beginning of the end.

Post Pepper, that period (the critical misstep of the Magical Mystery Tour EP & Film, The White Album, Yellow Submarine, Let It Be, and Abby Road) can be characterized, as the parts are greater than the whole. During this time in the band’s history, it was rare for the band to create a song together.  Rather, it was much more common to have individual band members write and record songs and lobby to get them on the record.  Despite their team enhancing “corporate retreat” to Rishikesh, of which most of the White Album was produced during this time, the lads soon fell into old habits of back-biting and snarking each other’s work.  At one point during the production of the White Album, producer Sir George Martin recalled, “I remember having three studios operating at the same time.  Paul was doing some overdubs in one.  John was in another, and I was recording some horns…in a third” (5).

During the White Album sessions, a famous story in Beatles lore perfectly illustrates the parts are greater than the whole argument.  George was so upset with John and Paul after a 14-hour session where they half-heartily played on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” that he asked Eric Clapton to play on the track.  Clapton recalls, that he knew the other Beatles “wouldn’t like it” but George insisted stating, “It’s nothing to do with them.  It’s my song, and I’d like you to play on it.” (5).

Please understand, some of the most beloved songs by the Beatles occurred during this later time period.  In reality, however, these were not really Beatles songs but rather a Paul, or John or George song completed with the world’s best backing band.  Jobs’ management philosophy emphasizes the team over the individual, yet for the latter half of the Beatles existence, there was no team; the tension and the infighting were too strong for that to happen.  No one was able to keep each other in check, their negative tendencies were not balanced out and only Paul wanted the band stay together.  With the inside out view of the band, Jobs’ Beatles management philosophy does not hold.

Jobs second fatal flaw is well documented, as it was not uncommon for Steve to verbally cut someone down (6).  This second fatal flaw in his Beatles management philosophy is that “keeping each other in check” equates to… it’s OK to be an asshole to other people.  Jobs was famous for his brutal honesty which we know he used for effect to add some grit power into a conversation.  In the authorized biography, Walter Isaacson gave Jobs the last word at the very end of the book.  In his commentary, Jobs called his brutal honesty “the price of admission” (7):

“I don’t think I run roughshod over people, but if something sucks, I tell it to their face.  It’s my job to be honest.  I know what I’m talking about, and I am usually turn out to be right.  That’s the culture I tried to create.  We are brutally honest with each other, and anyone can tell me they think I am full of shit and I can tell them the same.  And we’ve had some rip-roaring arguments, where we are yelling at each other, and it’s some of the best of times I’ve ever had.  I feel totally comfortable saying “Ron that store looks like shit” in front of everyone else.  Or I might say, “God, we really fucked up the engineering on this” in front of the person that’s responsible.  That’s the ante for being in the room:  You’ve got to be able to be super honest.  Maybe there’s a better way, a gentelmen’s club where we all wear ties and speak in the Brahmin language and velvet-coded words, but I don’t know that way because I am middle-class from California (page 567). 

Perhaps it was Jobs’ outside in view of the Beatles that formed his brutal honest equals to being an asshole view of dealing with people.  He was a big Beatles fan had to be aware of the conflict among the Fab 4.  As a passionate fan, however, Jobs could have mistaken that the reason the band created such amazing music was because of the tension or the forceful nudging of each other; they kept each other in check.

I could not disagree more on this point.  I believe in honesty and I believe in being direct, but at no point do I believe anyone has to belligerent to get one’s point across. In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, perhaps Dr. Maya Angelou said it best (8):

“I know there are people who say, I’m brutality frank. Well, one doesn’t have to be brutal about anything. One can tell the truth and tell it in such a way that the listener hears it and really welcomes it.” 

A plausible theory is that the Jobsian brutal honesty was more a management tactic than pure personality. To further emphasize this point, a recent 60 Minutes interview with David Kelly, founder of IDEO and dear friend of Steve Jobs touched on this issue (9).  In the interview, Charlie Rose asked:

What is the biggest misconception about him?”

And Kelly responded:

I think the misconception about him was…he was kind of malicious.  He was not trying to be mean to people.  It wasn’t…he was just trying to get things done.  And you just had to learn to react to that.”

Apple in the Post-Jobs Era

As an academic interested in leadership, I have been studying Apple for the better part of two decades. I believe that Kelly’s assessment is the more accurate picture of Jobs. That said, I am not so sure Jobs understood the downside effect of this tactic. In other words, as with the Beatles, brutal honesty could break up the band. Tim Cook has the same view as David Kelly and learned to translate Jobs’ brutal honesty.  In a handful of times in the authorized biography, but particularly when Jobs returned from the Liver transplant, Cook often called Jobs’ brutal honestly “his passion” and attributed it to Jobs always striving for the best. On his first day back from second major medical leave, Jobs called a meeting and ripped into the upper management team.  As described by Isaacson (7):

“But was truly telling was the pronouncement he made to a couple of friends late that afternoon. ‘I had the greatest time being back today, he said.  “I can’t believe how creative I’m feeling, and how the whole team is.”  Tim Cook took it in stride.  ‘I’ve never seen Steve hold back from expressing his view or passion,” he later said.  “But that was good.” (489)

The Apple of today does not operate in the Beatles management philosophy; that was Steve’s mental model, not Tim’s (10).  Over the past 18 months but particularly in October 2012 when Apple and Scott Forestall parted ways, Tim Cook has been striving for more honesty and less brutality. Forestall is a brilliant engineer and was one of the key architects of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, yet Forestall (sometimes called mini-Steve) was more interested in politics, power and fiefdoms.  Since iOS powered devices are responsible for over 80 percent of Apple’s revenues, Forestall felt he was more important than the team (i.e., the parts are greater than the whole).  Other influential managers, by their actions, indirectly confirmed Forestall’s worldview.  For instance, Bob Mansfield unexpectantly retired in early 2012 then un-retired to another senior manager role once Forestall was ousted.  Jony Ive did not want to be in the same room nor work with Forestall.  In a Jobsian worldview, Forestall was the tension, the grit powder that Jobs believed would eventually result in a better song. Cook sacrificed Forestall for the sake of the team, as the tension was unhealthy, unchecked and holding Apple back from its next stage of new songs.

I am optimistic on Apple’s future, as I believe Cook is unafraid of ghost of Steve Jobs.  While Forestall’s ousting was clearly a major indicator of Tim’s willingness to do what is best for the future of Apple, it is also a major indicator that Tim does not envision himself as just the torch carrier of Apple’s past. Beyond the October 2012 senior management shakeup, there are other indicators as well such as, Apple’s corporate social responsibility in China, the disbursement of dividends, taking on debt, and charitable giving just to name a few.  Cook knows the Apple of the past cannot be the growth engine of the Apple of the future. If the rapid and radical update to iOS 7 is any indicator, I am optimistic that Apple will not be resting on its laurels in the Tim Cook era; Cook wants the tension to be healthy, the collaboration among the band leaders to be strong, and most important, the songs to be amazing for years to come.

 

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

 

 

Apple Social Responsibility in China: An Update

Hola Todos!

Tim Cook is often criticized and it is not hard to find a “Fire Tim Cook” article in the blogosphere (note: these usually come from the Wall Street financial writers).  I have been writing for some time that Tim Cook has been stepping out from the shadow of Steve Jobs (ex. 2013 WWDC Round upIs Apple Cursed?The Legacy of Steve Jobs).

Another example of how Tim Cook is being different from Mr. Jobs is Apple’s social responsibility in China. In a recent Apple 2.0 Blog post, Philip Elmer-DeWitt called it a complete 180 stating:

The bulk of the work Apple has done began in 2012, after the death of Steve Jobs. It is generally believed that Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has been traveling to China as a supply chain executive for many years, has been supportive of Apple’s cooperation with environmental groups in a way that Jobs was not. Ma said he has not met with Cook but that he has held meetings with other high-level Apple executives.”

The shadow of Steve Jobs still looms large today but as a leader, Tim Cook has been making the CEO office his own and I expect even more Tim Cook fingerprints in the coming year.

Something to check out today…

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

 

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Jobs Book Summary: Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs

Hola Todos!

Soon after the publication of the Steve Jobs biography, its author Walter Isaacson wrote an excellent article  in the Harvard Business Review highlighting 14 leadership lessons he learned from his experience with Mr. Jobs.  While reading though the HBR blog the other day, I came across a presentation by Mr. Isaacson on this very topic. This presentation, as with the article on the same topic, is very nuggetworthy.

Something to check out today…

 

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

 

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs: A Rare Glimpse Into Their 30 Year Relationship

Hola Todos!

The story of Microsoft and Apple – translated to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – are central figures in the history of personal computing.  In a fascinating but unfortunately short (under 6 minutes) video, 60 Minutes Overtime put together a number of interview highlights of Gates and Jobs by journalist Charlie Rose.

There no question these two had a complex relationship but there is also no question that their relationship was special and unique.  Gates his visibly choked up in one segment when talking about Jobs after his passing. One of the most interesting lines in the clip is when Gates tells about Jobs, in failing health, canceled a dinner at the last minute. “If he wants to know why,” Jobs told Gates’ secretary, “just tell him I’m an asshole.”

Something to watch today…

 

Best

Dr. Dan-o

 

 

Curiosity: The Not-So-Hidden Talent of Steve Jobs

Hola Todos!

I have written on the power of curiosity (here and here) before here on DigNuggetville and it never surprises me how often this theme comes up in my search for nuggets; particularly the “why” question.

The other day, I was listening to “The Lost Interview” by Robert X. Cringely who had interviewed Steve Jobs in 1995 for an excellent documentary that aired on PBS titled “Triumph of the Nerds.”

In the interview, Robert asked Steve:

 “You’re were 21 – you were a big success – you sort of done it by the seat of your pants – you don’t have any particular training in this (he was referring to strategic management). How do you learn to run a company?”

Jobs paused for 10 seconds and then says:

 “Throughout the years in business, I found something which was… I always asked ‘why you do things’ and the answers you invariably get were ‘Oh that’s just the way it was done.’ Nobody knows why they do what they do.  Nobody thinks very deeply in business.  That’s what I found.” 

Jobs goes on to give an example of early accounting practices at Apple.  Finishing up, Jobs says,

“So in business, a lot of things are done….I call it folklore. They are done because they were done yesterday, and the day before, and so what they means is if you are willing to ask a lot of questions, and think about things and work really hard, you can learn business pretty fast.  It’s not the hardest thing in the world.”

Robert says:

“It’s not rocket science.”

And Jobs confirms:

“It’s not rocket science… no”

 

Something to think about today…

 

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Jobs: “Three Stories From My Life”

Hola Todos!

One of the Apple blogs I follow consistently is Philip Elmer-DeWitt’s Apple 2.0 blog  its excellent.  Each year on Steve Jobs’ birthday (which would have been his 58th yesterday), Philip posts the perhaps the most unique and public speech jobs ever made.  In 2005, Steve Jobs opened up to the graduating class of Stanford University and began, “Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life.  That’s it.  No big deal.  Just three stories…”

This is well worth the 15 minutes – trust me on that.

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legacy of Steve Jobs: One-Year Out…

Hola Todos!

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of Steve Jobs and debating his legacy has been a hot topic this week.  Numerous media outlets have commented on the state of Apple since his passing and here’s a short list round-up:

How Steve Jobs’ Legacy has Changed, by Brandon Griggs of CNN

Apple’s Post-Steve Tipping Point, by David Goldman of CNN.money.com

How Apple has changed under Tim Cook, by Heather Kelly of CNN

Mapping A Path Out of Steve Jobs Shadow, by Brad Stone, Adam Satariano, and Peter Burrows of Business Week

A journalist contacted me earlier this week to reflect on Steve Jobs legacy.  The way I look at it, Mr. Jobs had many strengths, as well as, many weaknesses and the obvious accolades to Mr. Jobs’ legacy are the numerous products including the ground-breaking iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad from his second term at Apple.  However, I feel Steve Jobs had a much more profound impact than just those products and its hiding in plain sight; it is Apple Inc. itself.

Steve Jobs’ passion was creating revolutionary products that had the potential “to make a dent in the universe” but his passion to create a company that was built to last rivaled that of his focus on products.  The lessons from his ouster from Apple, the trials and tribulations from creating and running NeXT, and ultimately those experiences gleamed at Pixar, were imbued into the Apple we know today.  Think about this; by the mid-2000s Apple’s culture was so strong that the CEO took not one, not two but three medical leaves before stepping down and Apple did not miss a beat. How many companies can you think of that has a culture that strong?

Interestingly, although Steve Jobs created this culture, it was best articulated by current CEO Tim Cook in 2009, well before he knew he would replace Steve Jobs at CEO:

“We believe we are on the face of the Earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.  We are constantly focused on innovating.  We believe in the simple and not the complex.  We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.  We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.  We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.  And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.  And I think, regardless of who is in the job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well” (Isaacson 2011, pg. 488).

With Cook, Ive, Schiller, Forstall, Cue and team, Apple has the deepest bench in tech.   Moreover, this team has Jobs’ DNA described above in their blood and they will pass that passion on to future team members.

While we will talk about the products and gawk at the sales and margins of those products now, it’s the Apple of 2014 and beyond that will be most interesting to watch.  Apple always worked 18 to 36 months out on all their concrete plans.  The iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, new iPod Touch, new iPad, iBooks, the future iPad mini (probably next month), the future Apple TV box (probably early to mid 2013) and even the currently unpopular Siri and Apple Maps all have Steve Jobs’ finger prints all over them.

While I understand that CEO Tim Cook is often criticized that he is steering a ship that is still zooming along with the winds of Steve Jobs blowing on its back, however, I will not be surprised when Apple is still rolling out critically acclaimed and consumer loving products in 2014 and 2015 that have Cook and teams’ fingerprints all over them.  That’s the company Steve Jobs built and I hope there is a sufficient tribute to the man when they move into their circle-shaped, space-ship looking headquarters in a few years.

Something to think about today…

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, PhD

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University