Management Turnover as Change Agent

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Steve Jobs - Maybe he is not indispensable to Apple

The recent news from Apple that Steve Jobs has issued a last minute cancellation of his keynote at the upcoming MacWorld event stirred new speculation on his health and what it might mean to Apple.  Rather than explore Jobs’ health status for which I have nothing new to bring to the issue, the real question remains what it might mean for Apple should he leave.  While many people have viewed the loss of Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO as near cataclysmic, Justin Scheck and NeaSteve Jobsl Wingfeld of the Wall Street Journal wrote a piece that was far more circumspect over the consequences of Jobs leaving the company.  According to the story,

What if that situation does change? There is reason for optimism, based on the evolution of the team that develops Apple’s hardware, software and services, some people familiar with the company’s internal workings say. Some of them believe the group is now strong enough that, barring an exodus of top talent, the company could keep churning out innovative products without Mr. Jobs.  

Mr. Jobs did not respond to a request for comment…. 

In one possible sign of confidence in the management team, an unprecedented number of executives presented during the company’s press event to unveil its new MacBook lineup in October, though Mr. Jobs still dominated the event. 

… Mr. Crow contends that Mr. Jobs has now hired or elevated enough people whose product vision mirrors his that the company could continue to thrive. Mr. Ive is particularly in tune with Mr. Jobs’s thinking, he notes. Mr. Jobs’s sensibilities are also so deeply ingrained in lower-ranking designers and engineers that “a lot of people there will say ‘gee, what would Steve think about this,’ when Steve really isn’t thinking about it,” Mr. Crow says. 

Rick Devine, an executive recruiter in Silicon Valley with Devine Capital Partners, thinks Apple could continue to thrive in a post-Jobs world, predicting that the company will depend more on execution in the coming years than the kind of radical reshaping Mr. Jobs engineered over the past decade. Mr. Devine helped recruit Tim Cook, now Apple’s chief operating officer, to the company more than a decade ago.

 The authors make a good case for further success at Apple even without Jobs as long as key management talent remain.  To get the full story check out the entire article.

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