By the time you read this, even if you’ve been living under a rock you will have heard that Steve Jobs has stepped down from the top spot of Apple. It’s clear that his long plaguing health issues have returned forcing this action and unfortunately believe this to be for once and good this time without a return. Here too, there will be many stories, blogs and the like written about this son of a graduate student and Syrian father who was put up for adoption, grew up to lead a computer as well as media revolution (Pixar), fight off pancreatic cancer, lose half his bowel and have a liver transplant. Wow, if that isn’t a life, not sure what is however these words will be left to others as here we will wax about his success and the business of Apple going forward.
As in his departure from Apple, Steve suggested that the COO (Chief Operating Officer) Tim Cook be named by the board as his successor which they did. While too many this might make some sense as Tim has been a regular stand in for Steve as he’s dealt with his health issues in the past. Yet one should look a little deeper as why would one select a COO? As the name implies in its use of the word “operating” as this means daily as “operations” is centered in the here and now rather than the future. So Tim deals with things which happen in very short periods of time rather than long time horizons as design can take.
Whereas a CEO needs to be a futurist as the world isn’t today, it’s 12 to 48 months into the future as what is new today is old in ten minutes.
As it’s here in the next “ten minutes” which calls for a COO as this is a critical component of any and all companies today as it allows for the “current” delivery of the company obligations. However to do such requires a very short horizon of focus and this is where the issues build as to be successful here one must surrender future looking abilities [which a CEO requires] as this only clouds short term judgment.
A good working example of this was Roger Smith taking the helm of General Motors and running the once proud manufacturing stalwart into the ground. How did he do this you ask, simple he took a short term view of the business and the business as a whole. As in the era of business 101 of the past, the belief was that the “business” was what the company does. In The case of General Motors, Smith’s (Roger) view was it provided cars.
Yet it’s here we have to come to understand that it was just the opposite reason General Motors came into existence as Henry Fords premise was very utilitarian (as with Roger Smiths). You want a car, it’s black, and oh you want a different color? Sorry they are all black; oh you want another model, again sorry there is only one. This is where William Duran the founder of GM found that people would pay a premium price for what they feel they wanted rather then what Henry felt they should. Does this sound like Apple or not, as you can find everything Apple sells for cheaper, however it’s now the most valued brand as well as the largest company in the world from a market perspective because it gives the same yet different.
While the jury may still be out, solid money will be that Apple seeks a new CEO within the next 18 to 24 months…