With the recently announced resignation of Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple, many people are already speculating on the future of Apple. Certainly, the exceptional leadership, sage-like insightfulness and huge creative force of Steve Jobs will be greatly missed. However, there are three reasons Apple will continue to be successful:
Unlike other assets on the Apple’s corporate balance sheet or valuation on paper or products in the R&D pipeline, their corporate culture is much harder to quantify but is their single, most important strength. And it is Steve Job’s greatest contribution for their ongoing success.
I’m certainly not an expert in the inner workings of Apple’s corporate culture and not under the illusion that it is perfect, same goes for my understanding of Toyota’s culture for that matter. So simply take it as my humble opinion.
Culture matters. Big time! Cuture = People
Look at these great companies as a group, Apple, Toyota, Honda, Southwest, Starbucks, Disney, Virginia Mason, Group Health Cooperative, Zappos, TOMS. All different yet their common denominator is a great company culture with a great vision.
Here is my favorite quote by Steve Jobs, “I want to put a ding in the Universe.” What kind a corporate culture can be developed behind this vision?
Years ago this Steve Jobs’quote was taken from an Apple corporate poster, which I think gives a small insight to their corporate culture.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
As Lean Leaders, what can we learn from Apple and leadership of Steve Jobs? Look beyond their approach to “manufacturing” (or lack thereof) or Mr. Jobs’ specific leadership style but rather in the power of their corporate culture.
Are we developing a strong corporate culture or are we just learning Lean tools?