The big news today was that Steve Jobs was resigning as the CEO of Apple. He’ll still stay on as the chairman of the board, but the new CEO will be Tim Cook, who had been acting CEO while Jobs was dealing with health issues. The news of Jobs’ resignation caused two things to happen that really bothered me. One was that there was an outpouring of emotion on Twitter thanking Jobs for all that he had sone and the other was that Apple’s stock price went into a tailspin. I think that both the praise for Jobs and the impact on Apple’s stock are due to the same thing. People don’t appreciate the team that Steve Jobs put together.
Yes, when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple back in the 1970s they did the dirty work of designing all of the hardware and the two man show was responsible for the company’s initial success, but as the company grew I have to believe that the technical work was passed on to other talented people and that the Steves could fill a very necessary, but more abstract role, which is one of leadership. As any good leader will tell you, they could not have achieved success on their own. Only through the hard work of a great many people did Apple become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Those who are doling out thanks to Steve Jobs for their various Apple gadgets or are selling their Apple stock are extremely shortsighted or are naive.
Perhaps the most important thing that Steve Jobs brought when he came back to Apple in the 1990s was not his ability to deliver a great speech, or dream up a new gizmo. His greatest contribution was assembling a team of people who could help fulfill a vision for the company and its products. Even though Steve Jobs may be stepping down so he can take care of himself, the amazing group of talent he helped put together isn’t going to evaporate. When Steve Jobs was serving as CEO, do you really think that he personally designed every single piece of that iPhone you cherish, or the Mac that you use to do your job every day? Of course not. The people that did all of the behind the scenes work aren’t going anywhere, and if past performance is any indication, Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, will do a fine job of carrying on Steve Jobs’ vision.
I don’t think that the praise of Steve Jobs is undue. He certainly has been a powerful force is shaping the world of technology, and maybe even the world in general, but to thank him without recognizing those who worked with him just isn’t right. So thank you Steve Jobs for your strong vision, but most importantly, thank you for putting together an incredible team of talented people who will ensure that your ideals are carried on well into the future.