Wednesday, April 23, 2014

the departure of Apple's yes-men

Much has been made of the turnover at Apple since the death of Steve Jobs, with more than a few concluding that Apple's time of amazing success is over, to be replaced by either stagnation or decay. Steve was the source of innovation within the company, they argue, and without him Apple is doomed.

There's no doubt that Steve was a genius, in his own way, and that Apple's turnaround and rapid ascension to contend for the title of most valuable company in the world was, in no small part, his doing. On the other hand, as much as he relished being surrounded by brilliant minds who could steal the spotlight from him, there is a strong tendency for such powerful leaders to become encrusted with others for whom the truth is whatever the leader says it is, who contribute little more than amplification of that leader's insights and predilections.

No more. Those days are gone at Apple, or at least so dramatically altered as to require a wholesale changing of the guard. Tim Cook may not have Steve's charisma, but neither is he as susceptible to flattery, and, as long-time operations chief, he has a great deal of practice in peering through pretense to gauge whether a person, partner firm, or product proposal contributes to the company's health or degrades it.

Any who made a career of being a yes-man for Steve would have a very hard time of it in today's Apple, and I would like to suggest that underlies the departure of at least a few from the company.

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