All good things come to an end and the era of great expectations associated with new Apple product may have ended with their new CEO’s unexciting introduction of iPhone 4S and the passing of Steve Jobs. Jobs’s creative influences, business acumen and visionary skills marked Apple as the one tech company who listened and delivered to the needs of their community.
Over the next two years we will see if Apple, whose stock has already taken a slight hit, will play things carefully to maintain what they have, or follow in Jobs’s footsteps as an innovator and developer of savvy technologies that meet the lifestyle of the community that they serve. The company has been in transition ever since Job’s came back in 1997 and it will be interesting to see if that constant transitional culture survives.
Everyone in the business community understands that when things flat line or start going south, it’s a sign that the company needs to realign itself with the shift in the market place. Infusing new blood into the company in the form of a new visionary is the simplest of things that can be done.
Unfortunately, especially after the passing of a great visionary, few companies are willing to take the risk of significant change that the new visionary would bring to the mix. Loyal workers might even be unwilling to participate in new ventures, as they might feel disloyal by walking away from what someone like Jobs established.
Dr. Dobson, a noted psychologist and radio personality spoke to non-profits several years ago telling them that their aging organizations all required an infusion of new blood. Many didn’t even have succession plans in place and figured that their visionary leaders would continue for decades to come.
Few heeded his words and started the long process of finding the right person. Others watched their organization become irrelevant to their communities that changed with the times, while the organization was still doing “what worked.”
These organizations were blind to their circumstances because they were doing everything right based on the past. This resulted in them blaming the bad economy for their down turn, instead of facing the fact that the organization was no longer pertinent to the people that once supported it.
However, the task of finding the right person to infuse an organization is difficult at best. Visionaries are few and far between. One psychologist told me that one out of every ten thousand people have the right temperament to become a visionary, but only 1% will step up to the role. Add to this the person’s background that limits which organization they can helm and you’ve greatly reduced the pool from which to draw from.
Society also fights this process as they like to see visionaries who have been raised inside of the company and can continue operations in the same way that no longer works. Another factor comes from the visionary’s own ability to make more money, thanks to his charisma, than what a non-profit can afford.
In other words, it just about takes a miracle to find the right person for the right spot. It also takes a board of directors who can trust and support the new vision. While most organizations want things to operate as usual for the first year, until employees get used to their new style, the health of most organizations require a radical change led by a maverick visionary.
With that said, we all know that any new visionary entering an existing organization must start with people building skills to find out who likes his vision and who will be supporting it as he’s able to slowly roll it out. Once the majority of the key people are on board, the radical change can take place without ruffled feathers.
Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, has his work cut out for him over the next two years. His laid back style is significantly different than the charisma of Jobs whose enthusiasm put his phrase, “One more thing,” into the proverbial inspirational speaker’s hall of fame.
Jobs is a hard act to follow, but he spent the last ten years transitioning Apple to be a company that thrives on transition, which should give Tim a head start on his vision.