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Thursday, October 27, 2011


Apple’s Jobs Told Cook Not to Ask ‘What Would Steve Do?’: Tech

(Bloomberg) — When Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook took the microphone at a memorial tribute to Steve Jobs at the company’s campus last week, he shared a piece of advice Jobs gave him before his death on Oct. 5.
“Among his last advice he had for me, and for all of you, was to never ask what he would do. ‘Just do what’s right,’” Cook said. Jobs wanted Apple to avoid the trap that Walt Disney Co. fell into after the death of its iconic founder, Cook said, where “everyone spent all their time thinking and talking about what Walt would do.”
For Apple, which Jobs co-founded at age 21 and built into the world’s most valuable technology company, that’s easier said than done. The challenge for Cook and his executive team will be to maintain Jobs’s legacy without being hobbled by it, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale University School of Management.
“You’ve got to be careful you don’t create rituals, which are antithetical to Jobs’s own approach,” Sonnenfeld said. “He was constantly breaking glass and moving forward. Walt Disney was surrounded by a cadre of creative people who were every bit the equal of Jobs’s lieutenants, but they became haunted by the question, ‘What would Walt do?’”
Taking Over
Cook took over as CEO when Jobs resigned in August, and had run day-to-day operations during Jobs’s three medical leaves. Jobs passed away after battling a rare form of pancreatic cancer that was first diagnosed in 2003. Since returning to the company in 1997, Jobs introduced one top-selling product after another, from the first iMac personal computer to the iPod music player, iPhone and iPad tablet, changing the electronics, music, mobile- phone and retail industries along the way.
Walter Isaacson’s 571-page biography of Jobs, which went on sale yesterday, confirms what most people already knew: Jobs was unique. Throughout the book, he alone drives Apple’s business in big and small ways, on everything from what products would be built to which songs would be featured in iTunes TV ads.
Jobs told Isaacson that one of his great hopes was that Apple would remain as innovative and committed to product excellence after his death. During the memorial on Oct. 19, Apple director Al Gore said Jobs had spent years developing processes to ensure a smooth transition.
Still, in the book, there’s no mention of any detailed plan for how Apple will be run in his absence. Jobs’s comments instead suggest some tricky challenges ahead for Cook.
‘Not a Product Person’
Jobs has praise for Cook’s operational expertise, yet he acknowledged that products — Jobs’s primary focus, above earnings, employee satisfaction or shareholder returns — aren’t his strong suit, the book says.
“Tim’s not a product person, per se,” Jobs told Isaacson.

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