As I’ve been engaged in some discussions lately about Steve Jobs‘ heritage, I felt tempted to summarize my opinions expressed mostly through comments to the hbr.org on line community. Some of the thoughts were exchanged before this great personality has passed away.
When browsing through numerous articles, I noticed two dilemmas that I found worth discussing. One was the most frequent and natural question about whether Apple will continue to be such a successful company even after Steve Jobs died. Much more intriguing discussions were about the fact that Steve Jobs’ death solicited enormous interest in press and social media, compared to some other great personalities of our time that passed away – the creator of the C programming language Dennis Ritchie or the winner of Nobel prize in medicine, Dr. Ralph Steinmann who found some essential mechanisms of how the body reacts to infection. I’ll discuss the two dilemmas, starting from the latter.
The media attention
In his hbr.org blog post, Scott Berinato, an editor at the Harvard Business Review, shared his thoughts about huge difference in public and media attention that followed Steve Jobs’ death, compared to the few articles that noticed that Dr. Ralph Steinman passed away.
My comment was that one of the greatest virtues of Steve Jobs was his capability to manipulate media and rise public curiosity. Jobs was not jet an other marketer. His marketing was more than that, it was genuine show business.
He was a performer, a media star. If that wasn’t the fact, the world would have been less keen to recognize his major contribution in leadership and innovation.
By gaining positive publicity we reward sympathy and a stronger public recognition. I’m pretty sure that outside the short-term publicity by press or social media, the work of either Steve Jobs, Dennis Ritchie or Dr. Ralph Steinman will be recognized in the fields where they have contributed the most. They will all be cited and their work elaborated in thousands of pages in scientific, technological and leadership literature for the generations to come. After the lights of the current public attention will turn off, the genuine human heritage of the three great men will remain.
The post – jobs Apple
What about Apple in the post Steve Jobs era? This is among the most frequently asked questions these days. After Steve Jobs announced his retirement from Apple several months before his death, James Allworth, Max Wessel, and Rob Wheeler proposed this question at the Harvard Business Review blog post Why Apple Doesn’t Need Steve Jobs.
The authors argued that the „Jobs’ way“ is already so infused within the Apple culture and that “Today at Apple is going to be exactly the same as yesterday.”
No one is able to predict how will Apple respond in the future years, but I do believe that in either of cases, the future generations will study the „Jobs’ impact“. The core answer about how much a single person can impact a corporate performance hides in the Apple of next decade. Will it keep its market performance and innovation agenda after Steve Jobs haIf Steve Jobs managed to embed the “Jobs’ way” into the fabric of Apple’s culture, then this will be the heritage of a great leader to the rest of us and probably the most searched and cited corporate culture impact of an individual in the future.
In the opposite case, if the “after Jobs” Apple fails (again) instead, this will be the most valuable evidence of all the times of a leader’s impact on organization’s success. I believe that it might start a new era of self-conscious individuals starting great things with trust that they can make the difference – because “Steve did it that way”.
This post is my personal tribute to the person who made the difference. Thanks Steve.