Steve Jobs: Thank you!
LEE’S SUMMIT, October 7, 2011 – Few people in this world have had the positive impact Steve Jobs had on how we live and work. His ability to anticipate the desires of the consumer and his confidence to make it all happen truly impacted not only Apple, but many other companies. Thank you Steve Jobs, you will be missed.
Back in the 80’s I took a post graduate course at Michigan Universities School of Business that covered product development strategies and value to the companies. At the time we talked a great deal about HP and how they had developed printers that took Epson’s dominance of the market away from them. Hewlett Packard was the icon of innovation up till then. They had made it a point to be first on the market, gain the profits from being the pioneers, and when the market got crowded, they moved on to the next new venture to repeat the cycle.
Apple Computers and Steve Jobs did not have a great relationship and in the 90’s they parted company. Steve Jobs, as I was told in that class, was a pioneer and you can always tell the pioneers because they have the arrows on their chest. He was ahead of his time and had to bring Apple along kicking and screaming all the way to dominance of the market.
As an outsider, and someone that does not particularly care for the Apple approach to proprietary operating systems and heavy handed control over development of supporting products, I have to admit that Steve Jobs was unique in his ability to not only hold himself and Apple to a high standard, but he was able to motivate people to do better – even if they did not work for him.
The challenge for Apple is to adjust to life post Steve Jobs. Great men like him are often irreplaceable. They are the doers in the company. They are the driving force. They are the vision and the charisma. They are often not the teachers and mentors that prepare their followers to lead when the time comes. The cruelty of Steve Jobs fight with Cancer is that it took a great leader out at a time when the U.S. needs leaders like him in industry. Maybe the blessing of his protracted fight with Cancer is that he saw what was coming and maybe he set in motion the process of preparing his replacement to lead as he did.
Time will only tell where Apple will be in five or ten years. In 2011 Apple overtook Exxon-Mobil as the highest valued company in the United States. I hope, for the sake of Steve Jobs memory and all the stock holders (pension plans, 401K’s, etc.) that in five years has not faded as HP has from its pinnacle in the 80’s.
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