Tim Cook just gave an on-message (read dull) interview for the 2012 All things D Conference. Many Apple faithful were quick to complain how the new CEO was missing Steve Job’s vital charisma. Mr. Cook was handpicked by Steve (notice the familiar usage), not for his charisma but for his excellence at running a global tech juggernaut day to day, and his loyalty to Apple’s (Steve’s) core values. So I believe people are misplaced in wanting Mr. Cook to be another Jobs.
While Apple is lucky to have such a good manager as Mr. Cook, they do have a problem with a leadership vacuum. They need a genius high up at Apple to help lead the way. Unfortunately, no one can replace Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs the visionary, the driving asshole inspirer, and the laser-eyed design fanatic won’t be found in one individual.
But maybe three people can replace Steve Jobs. I know this sounds nuts, but hey Steve Jobs believed crazy ideas can work, right?
I think Apple needs to have a a creative triumvirate (a quorum of 3, 3 wise men, the Three, what ever you want to call them) to hold the role that The Steve used to hold.
- One visionary would represent software and user design.
- The second visionary would represent external hardware appearance and aesthetic design (cough, Jony Ive, cough).
- The third visionary would be there as the great motivator, the one who keeps the culture of Apple inspired and connected to its highest ideals. The Third Visionary would also be the public face and spokesperson for Apple at media events.
Why three visionaries? Well, an even number of people won’t always agree and end up in deadlock, and you need to have some compromise. Also more than three would lead easily to the too many cooks in the kitchen phenomenon. Like the three bodies of the U.S. government, you need balance of power. Basically, to vote on issues related to Apple’s future, you would have five equal votes. The board would get one vote, the Creative triumvirate would get one vote each, and Tim Cook would get a deciding vote in tie breaker situations.
Apple will do well without a visionary like Steve for awhile, as they can continue their great streak in the short term. But in the long term, Apple will need the spirit of a tech visionary to keep guiding the company into undiscovered territory. Maybe they will find the three to do it.