Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Apple University?

Is Jobs is the embodiment of Apple or is Apple already Jobsian, imbued with his ethos?
That, in a nutshell, is what the market would love to know most about Apple. Not what products are in the pipeline, but what the company's future will be once Steve Jobs leaves the stage.

Horace Dediu comments on a project that in 2008 was announced as "Apple University." The thinking then was that this was some sort of higher-education project along the lines of iTunes U. Today, however, Fortune reports that "Apple University" is actually an internal effort:
According to the article in Fortune and some additional details from another source, Joel Podolny has been building an understanding of how Apple is run. He’s then been asked to codify this understanding into a curriculum that can be taught to Apple employees.
Other companies have attempted to preserve and to pass on their cultures. In Silicon Valley "the HP Way" is legendary. "The AOL Way" is a bad joke. "The Apple Way"? Knowing Jobs' drive for perfection, I'll guess it will take its place alongside HP's rather than AOL's.

What remains to be seen, though, is whether it is possible to pass along Jobs' famous esthetic sense. Can tastefulness be taught? Is it possible to instill the intuition that tells one, "This is ready to sell"?

That esthetic sense is not limited to the entirety of a product. Jobs famously not only is able, but more than willing, to consider details most people would deem trivial. Nevertheless, he is not considered a micromanager because he doesn't typically get wrapped up in them: only the metaphorical rough edges capture his attention.

The other, seemingly magical component to Apple's success in the last decade has been the company's ability to identify viable markets for new products. The company's track record has been enviable, if not quite perfect (e.g., Apple TV), but what isn't clear is how much of this track record is due solely to Jobs. If "the Apple Way" can inculcate whatever abilities are needed to continue this pattern of successful diversification (without loss of focus), the company's future is secure.

(Daring Fireball provided the link to the Fortune article.)

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