Apple board member says Steve Jobs told team not to ask "What would Steve do?"

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple board member Al Gore said in an interview on Friday that the late Steve Jobs had specifically told CEO Tim Cook and others to avoid asking themselves what he would have done while attempting to carry on his legacy.



Gore, a former U.S. Vice President, noted in an interview with Walt Mossberg at AllThingsD's AsiaD conference in Hong Kong that Jobs and Apple's Board of Directors had held discussions at "every single meeting, for several years" about cultivating the team that would replace Jobs.



Among Job's inventions, "I actually I think his greatest work was Apple itself,? Gore said, echoing sentiments that have been voiced by numerous analysts and industry watchers. ?He created an organization, and inspired it, that literally creates technology that people love.. and that?s going to continue."



According to Gore, Jobs cited company struggles at Disney after founder Walt Disney's death as an example of the dangers of that thinking.



"[Jobs] used to talk about initially about how after Walt Disney died, the company always got in trouble about asking ?what would Walt do in this situation.? And he made it very clear ?I don?t want that,?" said Gore. "He made it clear to Tim Cook and everyone else ?Don?t ask what Steve would have done. Follow your own voice.?"







Gore did note that Apple has "so many things in the pipeline" and that "the team that [Jobs] built is hitting on all cylinders," while also asserting that the executive team will still take risks and be a game-changing force.



"Everyone on that management team could be CEO of a world class corporation," he added. Asked if that was a problem because other companies would try to poach Apple execs, Gore agreed, but noted that, as a member of the compensation committee, they "pay real close attention to that."



Mossberg went on to question Gore as to whether he had any conflicts of interest in serving as a Google advisor in addition to his role at Apple.



"After [then Google CEO] Eric Schmidt left the Apple board because of conflicts, I pulled back as well," Gore said. Schmidt stepped down in August 2009 because the search giant had begun to enter competition with more of Apple's core businesses.



"I still talk to [Google co-founders] Larry and Sergey, but never about about anything where there?s competition. It?s not really a problem, but I don?t have as many conversations with them now. And I miss that. I?ve known them since they were 27 years old," he said, adding that he thinks Larry Page is doing a "great job" as CEO.



When asked about Jobs' memorial servicee, Gore called it "a beautiful and moving event," and added, "We'll all miss Steve."



"He?s the kind of guy that comes along once every 250 years. He was totally unique," he said.



The Apple Board of Directors has been described as being at a "crossroads" after the Jobs' death. Some industry watchers suggested Apple should appoint an independent chairman from outside the company to take charge.



When Jobs stepped down as CEO in August, he recommended that the Board follow its succession plan and appoint Cook as the new chief. The directors readily agreed, appointing Cook to the position.



"I believe Apple?s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it," Jobs said in an open resignation letter.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 61
    They don't have to ask that question because they know by instinct what Steve would have done. He trained them to think that way after he hand picked them. The key thing being to ask what is right for the consumer and not focus too much on the techno geeks and the hard core pros and to never do something simply because everyone else is doing it if that something doesn't make sense.



    Nitpicking the details to try to figure out how Steve would handle it doesn't matter as much since often there's more than one way to answer the question.
  • Reply 2 of 61
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "He [Jobs] made it clear to Tim Cook and everyone else ?Don?t ask what Steve would have done. Follow your own voice.?"



    So... what if your own voice said to do what Steve would have done?
  • Reply 3 of 61
    No problem, just execute.



    The problem arises when your voice tells you something else, something that Steve wouldn't have done.



    That's what Steve's comment is about. Don't second guess yourself. Find your own path. If your heart and mind are in the right place, trust them.



    You missed the point.
  • Reply 4 of 61
    I agree with Gore. I strongly believe that Steve was not about getting his successors to narrow their agendas to what someone thought he would do (which, btw, led me to also question the whole meme about Apple U and its supposed acculturation mandate/crusade post-Steve).



    Steve himself evolved as a leader, and I expect that, in his second incarnation at Apple, just as he became a different type of leader vis-a-vis Apple and its products, he became a different type of leader with respect to Apple and its people. As someone noted, perhaps his greatest legacy will be "iCook."



    The second-in-commands that he groomed and put in place are a bunch of incredibly competent people, and it would be foolish to constrain them to some vague, arguable, (and ultimately non-replicable) notion of "what would Steve do". The top managers would probably spend more time fighting over who best represents Steve's legacy in a world like that, and get little done.



    Incidentally, Steve could be a hands-off leader too, as evidenced by how he left the creative team at Pixar totally alone to pursue their muse (I am sure, with an occasional nudge).



    I think we're all going to have to get used to a different Apple. It'll be truly interesting to see how it evolves, and I, for one, can't wait.



    (Aside: Cue the inevitable anti-Goreans; let's hope the thread doesn't get derailed by that nonsense).
  • Reply 5 of 61
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    They don't have to ask that question because they know by instinct what Steve would have done. He trained them to think that way after he hand picked them.



    I completely disagree. You can't just train someone to think the way Jobs did.



    I'm sure you could make evolutionary changes to a product to bring it more toward something that Steve would have liked (e.g. by focusing on usability etc).



    However the idea that you can just train someone to make the same kind of revolutionary jumps toward products that can disrupt an entire market like Steve did on multiple occasions is just absolutely ludicrous.



    Al Gore is right. Apple can't get stuck thinking "what would Steve do?" because they don't know what Steve would do.
  • Reply 6 of 61
    ikolikol Posts: 369member
    At least Apple doesn't need to worry about Al Gore stealing iOS and copying its products.
  • Reply 7 of 61
    bwikbwik Posts: 562member
    Welp, they also shouldn't do what Steve wouldn't do, so that kind of traps them doesn't it.
  • Reply 8 of 61
    ikolikol Posts: 369member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bwik View Post


    Welp, they also shouldn't do what Steve wouldn't do, so that kind of traps them doesn't it.



    On no, not "Apple is Doomed!" again?
  • Reply 9 of 61
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iKol View Post


    At least Apple doesn't need to worry about Al Gore stealing iOS and copying its products.



    No, because Al Gore invented the iPhone, along with the Internet, the electric car, and salt.
  • Reply 10 of 61
    ikolikol Posts: 369member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    No, because Al Gore invented the iPhone, along with the Internet, the electric car, and salt.



    Any truth to the rumor that his voice will be the robotic male Suri in iOS 6?
  • Reply 11 of 61
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post


    I completely disagree. You can't just train someone to think the way Jobs did.



    Apple can't get stuck thinking "what would Steve do?" because they don't know what Steve would do.



    That's correct. It's easy enough to parrot Steve Jobs, imitate him, but don't think for a second that you can think like him. His ability to see into the future and pick out what really mattered and how to get there was uncanny. And not something you can teach.
  • Reply 12 of 61
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iKol View Post


    Any truth to the rumor that his voice will be the robotic male Suri in iOS 6?



    Impossible. Male Suri does not speak in a monotone.
  • Reply 13 of 61
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    Like Gore said. There are allot of projects in the development. I would almost bet that Steve had been involved in future i devices like iPad 3 and beyond. He would have left ideas about what to integrate into the new iPad 3 or even 4. Also ideas about what to do with iOS 6. He had at least two years to work on this and was in constant contact with the Apple team the day before he died. He set the foundation and hired the team. We get to sit back and enjoy what they will release over the years.
  • Reply 14 of 61
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iKol View Post


    At least Apple doesn't need to worry about Al Gore stealing iOS and copying its products.



    They might have to worry about Bush stealing them from Gore. Zing!
  • Reply 15 of 61
    ikolikol Posts: 369member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    No, because Al Gore invented the iPhone, along with the Internet, the electric car, and salt.



    You forgot Global Warming too.

    ...which is what happens when you need 3 Apple Cinema Displays.



  • Reply 16 of 61
    ikolikol Posts: 369member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    Impossible. Male Suri does not speak in a monotone.



  • Reply 17 of 61
    ikolikol Posts: 369member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iKol View Post


    You forgot Global Warming too.

    ...which is what happens when you need 3 Apple Cinema Displays.







    Sorry, I forgot the TV monitor he views from the right side of his head.



  • Reply 18 of 61
    ikolikol Posts: 369member
    "Apple board member Al Gore said in an interview on Friday that the late Steve Jobs had specifically told CEO Tim Cook and others to avoid asking themselves what he would have done while attempting to carry on his legacy."



    Of course not- they should ask Suri.
  • Reply 19 of 61
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,595member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iKol View Post


    Any truth to the rumor that his voice will be the robotic male Suri in iOS 6?



    Now what do you think Steve would have thought of that idea?
  • Reply 20 of 61
    Whenever a visionary dies, technology gets stuck. Henry Ford died - we are still driving essentially the same cars made 110 years ago. Thomas Edison died - we are still stringing electrical lines across poles 130 years later. Alexander Graham Bell died and we are still holding phones up to our ears 100 years later.



    Each of those men revolutionized existing technology. No one has made it revolutionary since. Unless someone revolutionizes holograms, I don't think we will be seeing anything but thinner iPad's for the next 100 years.
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