Life at Apple after Steve retires

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    Posted: 16 May 2011 01:22 AM

    I was listening to “The Talk Show” podcast #42 with Dan Benjamin & John Gruber. Around the 49 min. mark they briefly discuss the recent Fortune article “Inside Apple” by Adam Lashinsky. Gruber says he thinks the real “scoop” in the article was the details about what Joel Podolny is doing with Apple University and his promotion to VP of Human Resources last year.

    Apple will never reveal details of what is taught at Apple U, but the entire concept shows the serious commitment Jobs is giving to perpetuating the successful strategies and decisions of the past decade. Natural, instinctive talent cannot be taught; however, much of the sweaty, methodical work involved in “genius” can and should be taught.

    One of Jobs’ strengths that many are afraid can’t be replaced is his eye for talent. It sounds like Podolny may be getting groomed to take over that role. Yet another member of an all-star team.

    Steve Jobs hired dean of Yale School of Management Joel Podolny to run the Apple University, an internal group also featuring business professors and Harvard veterans that are writing a series of case studies to prepare employees for the life at Apple after Jobs. These case studies focus on Apple?s recent business decisions and internal culture, they are exclusive to employees and taught by top executives like Tim Cook and Ron Johnson.

    http://www.macstories.net/news/inside-apple-reveals-steve-jobs-anecdotes-apples-little-known-facts/

    July 2010 ? Present (11 months)
    Vice President of Human Resources and Dean of Apple University

    January 2009 ? December 2010 (2 years)
    Vice President and Dean of Apple University

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/joel-podolny/a/486/124

         
  • Posted: 16 May 2011 01:34 AM #1

    Nice organizational chart Drew.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 01:50 AM #2

    That’s not his.  It’s the exec infographic that was in Lashinsky’s article for Fortune.

    Doncha just love how Steve Jobs is the inky black circle with those tendrils of RDF corruption infringing upon the SVPs’, uh, rounded rectangles? 

    Funny how I never hear anyone asking how HP will live on without the founders it was named after.  Or how Intel can make its quad-core chips without their co-founder Moore, well, probably not really knowing all that much about what goes into their designs.  Disney!  Ford!  Surely they are hollow shells of what they were when their founders were in charge.

    But that’s just a product of the world we live in.  And, yes, them’s the breaks of media coverage when you’re a company so committed to Thinking Different.?  No one understands you, even when iconoclasts of other industries are generally hailed rather than dumped on (e.g. Southwest Airlines, In-N-Out burger, etc.)

    Apple will be different.  We’ve already seen it happen once.  But the next time, Apple will be better positioned for the next 50 years - and to retain the same core values over those 50 years - than any company that ever was.  That keeps me from panic-buying iPhones and iMacs whenever I hear a SJ health rumor or Jony Ive departure rumor.

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    Posted: 16 May 2011 02:35 AM #3

    Don’t forget the mess Pixar has been since Jobs left a few years ago. You could even argue that he’s been gone since he came back to Apple in 1997.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 03:52 AM #4

    Poor Pixar. 

    Toy Story 3.  It almost brought me to tears.

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    The Summer of AAPL is here.  Enjoy it (responsibly) while it lasts.
    AFB Night Owl Team™
    Thanks, Steve.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 11:46 AM #5

    Apple is quite a bit different than Pixar in DNA.    With Pixar, everything flows from some plot point of the movie.  And how many movies does Pixar produce a year ?   

    Meanwhile, Apple has 4 main hardware lines, several auxillary lines, 5 sets of software lines (OS X, iApps, App Store, iOS App Store, Pro Apps).    There’s plenty of creative talent in these area.  DNA from Steve Jobs at Apple is way way different than at Pixar.  I contend that Apple will take 1-2 sideways and 1-2 steps forward in each of the product lines after a full-fledged Steve retirement over the period of a couple years.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 11:58 AM #6

    I am not sure SJ will ever retire.

    This medical leave of absence was done to force him to stop over working and prevent him from killing himself as result of overwork.  I think it can last another 6 months and then he will come back officially but work less as the foundation has been laid and molded to his liking.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 12:11 PM #7

    Tetrachloride - 16 May 2011 02:46 PM

    Apple is quite a bit different than Pixar in DNA.

    The other difference was that Pixar was sold to Disney. IMO Disney was the problem, not Jobs departure from Pixar. The Muppets were never as creative either after they were sold to Disney.

    Apple will remain as an independent company and the question is if they can continue to be as creative sans Jobs. Short term (the first year or two), yes. Medium term (5 years), very likely. Long term (10 years or more) mmmmmmaybe. Jobs can put someone in place that can share his vision. but what about after that person retires.

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    Courage is not the absence of fear, that’s insanity.
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  • Posted: 16 May 2011 01:38 PM #8

    Tetrachloride - 16 May 2011 02:46 PM

    Apple is quite a bit different than Pixar in DNA.    With Pixar, everything flows from some plot point of the movie.  And how many movies does Pixar produce a year ?

    I’d argue that their DNA is much more similar than you credit it.  At both companies, design is the gold standard.  With Apple, you already understand this.  With Pixar, it comes from years and many thousands of staff-hours spent in the conceptual and screenwriting phases of a project, because it needs to be polished to a mirror sheen before they spend an order of magnitude more resources on creating the animation itself.  Toy Story 3 was in production for half a decade, after the company saw screenwriter Michael Arndt’s brilliant job on Little Miss Sunshine, and the excruciating devotion to designing the movie right from the ground up shows through clearly in the final product.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 02:01 PM #9

    A movie has a severe bottleneck which is the script.    The foundation of the script writer includes their personality, bio-psychological foundation, moral standards.  The writer selects a plot device.  Since Pixar is in animation, the availability of plot devices is broad.  A movie’s foundation is about mental activities.  A device from Apple is based on hardware capabilities first.  Then the J. Ives team decides what to do with it.  Pixar is not limited by hardware.  The story is limited by what the writer is willing to say.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 02:30 PM #10

    Drew Bear - 16 May 2011 05:35 AM

    Don’t forget the mess Pixar has been since Jobs left a few years ago.

    This was meant as irony. I think Pixar continued to thrive after Jobs left his full-time position in 1997 and even after Disney took over in 2006.

    I don’t know the details, but the main point is he somehow left a team and system in place that kept the ball rolling. I think he is very consciously preparing Apple to do the same.

    It’s a bit like parents who not only leave a legacy of wealth to their kids, but they also teach them how to succeed on their own. This means teaching them to adapt to a constantly changing world.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 03:16 PM #11

    Interesting thoughts. Can “courage” be taught? Some of these decisions could be attributed to strict discipline or adherence to the “Steve Doctrine” (whatever that is).

    ?Can anyone innovate like Apple??  The simple answer: While anyone can learn the principles that drive Apple?s innovation, few businesses have the courage to do so.  It takes courage to reduce the number of products a company offers from 350 to 10, as Jobs did in 1998.  It takes courage to remove a keyboard from the face of a smartphone and replace those buttons with a giant screen, as Jobs did with the iPhone.  It takes courage to eliminate code from an operating system to make it more stable and reliable, as Apple did with Snow Leopard.  It takes courage to feature just one product on the home page of a Web site as Apple does with each new major product launch.  It takes courage to make a product like the iPad that is so simple a child can use it.  And it takes courage to eliminate all of the words on a PowerPoint slide except one, as Steve Jobs often does in a presentation.

    http://blogs.forbes.com/carminegallo/2011/05/16/steve-jobs-get-rid-of-the-crappy-stuff/?partner=yahootix

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 03:32 PM #12

    I just did Disney and Pixar cases at school. Here’s the (extremely condensed) recap. For more information, look up Resource-Based View: RBV

    Essentially, creative studious are nothing without their talent. As it happens, Pixar has had John Lasseter—think of him as Steve Jobs for Apple, but even more irreplaceable. Likewise, Disney had Katzenberg who revitalized the creative side of the company (before Pixar was big). At some point, Disney also grew its distribution and operational excellence - Eisner is credited with that. However, Eisner under-appreciated Katzenberg (essentially, low pay relative to contribution) and Katzenberg left to found Dreamworks. Creatively, Disney had been in decline until they started the partnership with Pixar.

    Because of Disney’s distribution, Pixar was worth more as part of Disney than on its own, but only on the condition that Pixar’s creative talent stayed in the new company, Lasseter first and foremost. RBV suggests that Lasseter and his team could not be tied to the company in normal situation. Disney was successful, however, because Lasseter essentially had no better outside option. Additionally, Iger didn’t repeat Eisner’s mistake. They’re treating Lasster very well.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 03:40 PM #13

    Drew Bear - 16 May 2011 06:16 PM

    Interesting thoughts. Can “courage” be taught? ...
    http://blogs.forbes.com/carminegallo/2011/05/16/steve-jobs-get-rid-of-the-crappy-stuff/?partner=yahootix

    Nothing new, but a very-well put together article / opinion piece. Succinctly describes an important part of Steve’s and Jony’s (and Apple’s) design philosophy.

    Oftentimes, however, this sort of courage is not the best strategy: consumers want choice. What plagues companies like Nokia & Microsoft is losing sight of complexity (of all sorts - I mean it in a broad way!) that comes at the expense of choice. This leaves a void for such products that restrict choice but offer simplicity and quality. Apple takes advantage of the asymmetry by being the most “courageous” company in its space.

         
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 03:50 PM #14

    By the way, Lashinsky’s article is now available on the Kindle store as a standalone piece for 99 cents.

    Anyone read it yet? I plan to buy eventually but won’t have time to read until June.