While Steve Jobs is a business hero of mine whom I admire much, I think it is idiotic for anyone in business to deify him and make it seem as if he had some sort of irreplaceable magic that can’t be replicated at Apple or anywhere else.
Peter Drucker proved this out in his research around innovation and entrepreneurship; all innovation is a process and can be replicated when any company puts in place innovation objectives and a process with accountability that has an intense focus on the customer and a goal of a new dimension of performance.
I believe Apple will continue its reign of being innovation exemplars. Jobs and team have been preparing for this for a long time, the new conservators of the Apple culture will communicate and manage the transition well…and while some fear that it is over, there are innovations around the corner that will reassure the public that Apple is not just Steve Jobs.
But gosh how I love and respect that man.
We need more heroes in business and he was an exemplary visionary. Like David Ogilvy did with advertising and marketing, Steve contradicted the industry with vision. To paraphrase Ogilvy, “Steve Jobs’ gods were not our gods.” He didn’t bow at the altar of incrementalism but he spoke the words and created worlds of revolutionary growth.
He was perhaps the most agile CEO in the history of American entrepreneurialism. Like any great innovator, Steve used defeats like being ousted from the company he founded, Apple, as a stepping stone to still greater innovations to create a groundbreaking company in a different industry – animated movie studio Pixar. His being wooed back to his first love, Apple, happened because the board knew they could no longer ignore his revolutionary vision and optimistic view for his child that was against the ropes and going down for the count, they knew no one else had such hope as Steve did in Apple’s ultimate ebb.
His mind was nimble, and he revolutionized animated movies with franchises like Toy Story and Cars shortly before revolutionizing the music industry with iPods and iTunes. He took on portable computing with iPads by taking on a contrary view to rival Microsoft. Bill Gates’ model was to make the computer the “set-top box” that anchored Americans’ living rooms. Instead, Jobs focused on people as the center of their living rooms, and created media and devices that would surround them, instead.
Moreover, he did not allow the cancer that ate away at his body to become an impediment to his impact. He turned it into an asset that empowered him. This passage about how his cancer diagnosis affected him is from his Stanford University commencement address rated the best of all time by USA Today:
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Steve helped us all to think different and think anew.
Mark Faust, founder of www.EchelonManagement.com is a growth consultant, executive coach and national speaker. Faust’s new book, Growth or Bust: Proven Turnaround Strategies to Grow Your Business, is now available at Barnes & Noble and Hudson’s airport bookstores.