As the shot heard around the world quiets down to a simmer (no, not this week’s earthquake, the Jobs resignation), it is likely more important to understand what this means to leading brands (and all of us) as opposed to remaining riveted on what this means for Apple.
In reality, Apple will be fine. Will it be better without Jobs? Of course not. Will it endure. Yes, more than likely (just as Pixar has done). The reason for this likely eventuality is what we should all take note of and glean from. In recent years, Jobs purposefully recalibrated his approach to leadership becoming less mercurial and more inviting. He became more welcoming and less insular. He became far more embracing and collaboratively inspired and far less polarizing and of a willingness to create in a vacuum.
It is for these reasons-and this intentional emphasis on creating a new culture of collaborative creativity at Apple- that the company now possesses a rich and vibrant executive bench-steeped in innovative thinking and creative mettle. And it is likely why Wall Street responded to yesterday’s news as a “shot”, but more so one from a rifle as opposed to one from a cannon. It is also likely why the “shrapnel” we have seen thus far from yesterday’s “blast” will likely be contained-and the effects felt-but not viscerally defining, as one might have expected.
What this teaches us, is the path forward-for great brands and their leaders-is that success is now contingent on the collective vision and innovative power of the many-not the few. The days of the CEO monolith are long gone. The species is now extinct. We saw the breed begin to die off through the Martha Stewart scandal-and we saw it wane even further when Charlie Schwab stepped into the background. And, now with the resignation of Jobs-the breed is clearly defunct and likely gone for good.
While it is sad and a bit unsettling to think of a world without Jobs inspired Apple gadgets to look forward to, it is also kind of exciting to imagine what a cult of innovators, mentored, bred and inspired by Jobs himself, will bring us as they build the new Apple, and its culture of collective creation.