Yesterday morning, in Dubai, I awoke at about 5:15. Before getting out of bed, though, I checked Facebook on my BlackBerry. There it was, Steve Jobs had died. For the next two hours, I was planted at my desk, mesmerized by the glow of the laptop, hardly noticing that morning light had come.
After a short blog in memory of Mr. Jobs, I posted this on my Facebook.
All eyes on this man, of course.
To wit, Dan Lyons from Powerwall reports Cook as having said to the staffers, “I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change.”
After the debacle and tragedy of the Bush administration, President Obama entered with the venerable ‘house’ strictly in disarray, as was the yard outside and much of the neighborhood and beyond. Cook’s situation is obviously very different and nowhere near the scope of the US and its international affairs. Nevertheless, he’s faced with a super-tough succession challenge.
Two things are common among us, in the face of loss, anxiety and grief: One is continuation.
Two is replacement. Now that Jobs is dead, we want someone exactly like him to take over and thus continue on as him.
From a strictly practical yet humanistic point of view, neither continuation nor replacement is possible. No one lives forever. No situation is permanent. What’s more, we’re all unique. To think that anyone could ever replace Jobs (or any of us, for that matter) is wishful thinking. It’s foolish but understandable. Just part of what makes us quintessentially human.
Cook is exactly in this understandable but foolish situation. Excuse me, come again, I don’t think I heard you. You said, “Apple is not going to change,” right? It makes sense to say this to console his grieving rank-and-file. But you just don’t lose an icon of Jobs’ standing and impact, and say nothing is going to change.
As I argued in another blog, the real issue now for Apple as a business and for Mr. Cook as the top dog is of evolution, and evolution is about change.
Remember the inspiring lessons of the Think Different campaign? Apple is about thinking differently about things. Jobs would not have followed himself and been same-old, same-old. He would’ve changed his own paradigms, and come up with a truckload of new ones.
So the super-tough challenge for Cook is to carry the company on his shoulders, NOT to continue as it is or to try to replace Jobs, BUT to evolve it into a wholly new Apple over this decade.
Does he have what it takes to do this? Apologies, but I don’t think so, or else we would’ve seen something different by now.