One of the most interesting revelations of the Fortune piece “Inside Apple” that’s making headlines this weekend is how Steve Jobs thinks Apple will be OK without him.
Fortune reporter Adam Lashinsky writes:
“Jobs himself believes he has set Apple on a course to survive in his absence. He has created a culture that, while not particularly jolly, has internalized his ways.”
Lashinsky says Jobs has been busy codifying the way he runs Apple — an argument I’ve been making for years.
“… these days, he’s especially focused on institutionalizing his ways of doing business. His mission: to turn the traits that people most closely associate with Jobs–the attention to detail, the secrecy, the constant feedback–into processes that can ensure Apple’s excellence far into the future.”
And here’s me writing for CNN in January:
In the last decade, Jobs has thoroughly remade Apple in his image. His personality traits have become encoded as the way the company does things. His perfectionism, attention to detail, even his design taste, have become part and parcel of Apple’s processes, from product development to advertising.
One of the most interesting revelations in Lashinky’s piece concerns the “case studies” that are being written about Apple’s most important decisions, such as consolidating iPhone manufacturing around a single factory in China. Jobs hired Joel Podolny, former dean of Yale School of management, as Apple head of HR. He’s been busy with a team of “eggheads” writing studies about Apple’s business decisions.
“It runs out Podolny has been busy working on a project that speaks directly to the delicate topic of life at Apple after Jobs. At Jobs’ instruction, Podolny hired a team of business professors, including the renowned Harvard veteran and Andy Grove biographer Richard Tedlow. This band of eggheads is writing a series of internal case studies about significant decisions in Apple’s recent history. It’s exactly the sort of thing the major business schools do, except Apple’s case studies are for an Apple-only audience… The goal is to expose the next layer of management to the executive team’s thought process… Jobs even is ensuring that his teachings are being collected, curated and preserved so that future generations of Apple’s leaders can consult and interpret them.”