It’s sad to see how everyone – from financial markets to over-the-top journalists and influencers to white-van-men – overreacts when something terrible happens to one of the leaders of star corporations.
Steve Jobs passed away and people all over the planet make his testament the same as his beloved Apple. I’m sad that Jobs lost his long battle against cancer. I feel for his family and friends. I feel for his colleagues at Apple, and I feel for the broad Apple community. The world lost a charismatic futurist. His loved ones lost a loved one.
But Steve Jobs is not Apple. Apple was never diagnosed with cancer. Apple never was one man. Hearing Bob O’Donnell from research firm IDC say that the timing of Jobs death is “unfortunate” gives me the creeps. What is good timing? Is it really better for anyone to read the obituary after the launch of the iPhone 5?
An analyst from Global Equities Research said on abcnews.go.com: “Apple is Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs is Apple, and Steve Jobs is innovation. You can teach people how to be operationally efficient, you can hire consultants to tell you how to do that, but God creates innovation … Apple without Steve Jobs is nothing.” God? Really?
Apple’s stock dropped 2.3 percent after the sad announcement. Earlier this year, when Steve Jobs asked for some privacy and time off to deal with his health issues, the Apple stock dropped 5%, instantly.
When Eric Schmidt announced that Google did not need his babysitting anymore, black-hatting twerps preached the end of the world and Google-as-we-used to know it. Remember the day Bill Gates told the planet he would find wise ways to spend his capital and would leave Microsoft in the hands of Steve Ballmer?
Let’s get real. Apple will survive Steve Jobs. That is why Jobs worked so hard. There will be Google after Schmidt. One might argue that Microsoft is experiencing a second youth under Ballmer. William Procter and James Gamble, and William Hewlett and David Packard have found their place in history books (and on Wikipedia), but P&G and HP are still very real.
France had Napoleon, De Gaulle, Pompidou… the U.S. had Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy. The UK still is a great nation, even with Churchill long gone. Good corporations and most nations survive the change of leadership.
The King is Dead. Long Live the King. Life, even corporate life moves on. Historically, change in leadership opens room for new blood, new ideas and new challenges. Darwin would argue that change, of all things, generates evolution.
Strong charismatic leaders are important, but not more than that. It takes lots of people to make a thriving company. Antoine de Saint-Exupery voiced it perfectly: “How could drops of water know themselves to be a river? Yet the river flows on.”
Rest in peace Steve, we’ll miss you.