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View Full Version : Steve Jobs Isn't A Role Model

Vincent Ferrari
07-02-2009, 05:00 PM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://cultofmac.com/fast-company-co-founder-has-it-right-steves-not-a-role-model/12497' target='_blank'>http://cultofmac.com/fast-company-c...ole-model/12497</a><br /><br /></div><p><em>"Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor has sparked a bit of a controversy on his Harvard Business Review blog by suggesting the heretical idea that &mdash; shock! &mdash; Steve Jobs might not be the best role model for other business leaders. Apparently, it&rsquo;s deeply offensive to suggest that what makes Steve great are the exact qualities that typically make for bad management at most companies. He micro-manages every aspect of Apple, has been known to fire people with minimal cause, and perennially runs the risk of out-shining his company &mdash; which is particularly problematic when his health problems continue to cast into doubt his long-term prospects as CEO."</em></p><p><img height="304" src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/at/auto/1246536985.usr18053.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" width="526" /></p><p>And yet Apple continues to thrive, proving yet again that when you run a company (instead of blathering on in a blog or newspaper about those who do) you follow your guts not some pre-defined formula for success.&nbsp; That's why Steve Jobs is the success he is and Apple is the company it is.&nbsp; In the article, numerous times, Bill Taylor mentions the saying "Trust the art, not the artist."&nbsp; I say it's the artist that makes the painting, not the theory of the painting that makes the artist.</p><p>The truth is, there's nothing about Bill Taylor that equates to real-world business experience.&nbsp; Unlike Jobs, Taylor has never been a CEO of a company.&nbsp; In his own bio he calls himself a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur, although except for founding the massive flop Fast Company which, as far as I know, no one outside of Silicon Valley reads at all, none of his business ventures have brought him any great successes otherwise he wouldn't be blogging for a publication.</p><p>He may be a successful writer, but he's not been a successful CEO, proving that he's probably spent entirely too much time talking about business theory and not enough time actually doing business.&nbsp; At least he's good at linkbaiting, though.</p><p>Jobs succeeds because he broke the mold.&nbsp; That's the whole point.&nbsp; He does things his way.&nbsp; Anyone who claims to know business should understand that.&nbsp; Maybe that's the way business should be done, not trying to see how to fit school training into the real world.</p>

07-02-2009, 06:20 PM
In most other environments, Jobs would fail badly. See Apple 1.0 (gasp! people weren't willing to pay $6999+ for a Lisa or a Mac II?!?) and NeXT. He's succeeded at Apple 2.0 for two reasons. First was luck. Tech prices came down and the economy grew enough that people were willing and able to pay a premium for superior products (and likewise because of the drop, the perceived cost differences were minimized. Second, Apple 1.0 and it's dwindling but loyal ecosystem were desperate for a savior figure and longed for (and have gratefully embraced) a dictatorial style of management.

Job's style can work well in startups and small, nimble organizations. It generally fails miserably in larger organizations. It is unquestionably an exception to the rule that he's succeeded in a company as large as Apple. And honestly from a shareholder perspective, he's still not coming close to maximizing potential profits (which served it well for quite some time because it kept them from seeming to be a real threat to the powerful establishment). It works in this one case, but I can't think of too many other places where it would work as well or at all. Picture him in charge of IBM or HP and likely you'd see a picture of an implosion. Way too large and diverse. You can micromanage and tantrum your way around maybe 10 to 20 product lines, but try that with hundreds (as is the case with most any other company Apple's size or larger) and you'd see stagnation and, at best, an attempt to contract to a company like Apple focusing on 10 to 20 major products. In some ways that might be good, but short-term shareholder pain would remove him from power well before we'd see any sense of success.

Vincent Ferrari
07-02-2009, 06:47 PM
You're not wrong, by the way, but my point is that the right way to run a business isn't always the way "the book" tells you. This writer is almost suggesting that because Jobs did it his way, it's not right. Anyone in business who employs that kind of black and white thinking fails miserably.

Jason Dunn
07-09-2009, 03:33 AM
Some of the people who had the biggest impact on history - Genghis Khan, Napoleon, etc., were maniacal egomaniacs. That's exactly what Steve Jobs is. I doubt many people like the guy, but what his singular vision has allowed him to accomplish is impressive. But I 100% agree that he's a horrible role model for other business leaders. The reality is though that anyone capable of being like Jobs would think he's better than Jobs anyway and wouldn't think he'd need to model himself after jobs - maniacal egomaniacs are funny like that. :D:D:D

07-12-2009, 08:59 PM
Any business leader worth his salt should understand that nobody else should be looked as a paragon of perfection for any other business - not Steve Jobs, not Jack Welch, not Tom Watson. What works in their business will probably not be applicable in anybody else's.