Steve Jobs is a remarkable man, and his impact on the world is enormous. The man was the original high-tech "rock star." He managed to be the coolest guy on the planet and an underdog at the same time. He was unapologetically arrogant, demanding, and hard to work with, but he was also almost always right. He had an uncanny ability to get the best out of people. He was a visionary. His rags to riches, to rags to riches, to rags to super-riches story is the stuff of American folklore and legend. I'm proud that he was part of my generation, and I his. He was Apples' greatest advantage and his absence is Apple's greatest weakness.
The problem Apple faces right now, is that Steve was THE guy at Apple. It was all about his vision, his hunches, his dreams, his decisions and his leadership. The people at Apple went through their professional lives thinking, more or less, "What Would Steve Do?" in every situation. He was the gold standard and his way was right. Those that didn't understand this probably didn't last long at Apple. So, a new generation of visionary leaders has almost certainly NOT been developed at Apple. The iPhone 4S launch this week was, to me, a clear indication that the folk at Apple don't have a clue what to do next.
Steve Jobs led his people brilliantly, but he didn't develop them to think and lead in their own right. Good governance is not about controlling people, it is about guiding and developing them. I don't know first hand, but I'm willing to bet there isn't a lot of governance structure in place at Apple right now.
If I am not mistaken, there are a number of people at Apple vying to step into Steve Job's rock star spotlight. They would do well to see the movie Moneyball and learn that the answer isn't in finding a new rock star, but in establishing a team that fits together and works. Good governance means making the whole more amazing than the sum of the parts.
I love Apple computer and I hope they find their way.