Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Implications of Steve Jobs' Absence

Minus 2.25%: that’s what Steve Jobs is worth to Apple; at least if you take yesterday’s shareprice performance in reaction to the events of Steve Jobs' announcement that he was taking a second medical leave and the record corporate performance. Or, maybe it's the minus 6.57% that was the reaction on the Frankfurt exchange?

Obviously, if any of us were asked to estimate his worth, it would be considerably more than either of these numbers, but it’s a good place to begin to think about what Steve Jobs is really worth to Apple. My impression is that his value is incalculably higher than either of these estimates even begins to suggest; that he is truly irreplaceable!

What Steve Jobs has done at Apple is nothing less than extraordinary! He has changed the way we live -- with the iPod; changed the way we work -- with the iPad; and changed the way we regard technology -- with the Macs & the iPhone; and he’s built, and rebuilt, an organization that is capable of doing this, over and over again, on a large and extremely profitable scale. Not bad for a kid from California who dropped out of university!

Steve Jobs is a throwback to the giants of our past who were the architects of so many great industries -- think Thomas Edison, for example. Opinionated, outspoken, passionate about the roots of his business, unswerving in his dedication to excellence not only in performance but in the look and feel; he will be difficult, if not impossible to replace when the time comes for that to happen.

What is also important to recognize about Jobs is that he has built a strong team to replace him in his absence. He has the self-confidence to hire great people and then push them to outperform even their own expectations. He might not trust the judgements of customers in creating the future, but he has been able to trust his colleagues to the extent that they have created dramatic new futures in nearly every industry that they have entered.

This post is an adaption of a version that first appeared as on IMD's website.

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