Others, Education

Farewell Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs (source: Wikipedia)
[TheNextWeb](http://thenextweb.com/2009/01/15/theory-how-apple-prepares-wall-street-for-jobs-farewell/ "TheNextWeb - Theory: How Apple prepares Wall Street for Jobs’ farewell") recently published a piece that explores the implications of [Steve Jobs](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_jobs "Steve Jobs") stepping down from Apple’s steer, even if just temporarily, as Steve Jobs announced recently in an [internal email](http://thenextweb.com/2009/01/14/apple-jobs-to-take-medical-leave-of-absence/ "TheNextWeb - Apple: Jobs to Take Medical Leave of Absence"). TheNextWeb’s theory states that this is just the first step in what will actually be in fact an actual change of top leadership at [Apple](http://www.apple.com "Apple Inc.").

Haunted by a pancreatic cancer he fought with in the past several years, Steve Jobs recently announced his staff that he is taking a medical leave of absence of six months in order to better take care of his personal health. Meanwhile, Apple’s COO, Tim Cook, will take over the reigns of Apple.

TheNextWeb states that since Apple is a public company and since Steve Jobs has the power to move markets (his keynote speeches and Apple’s new product launches have always boosted the Apple stock price dramatically), having him step down from his top leadership position at Apple might cause the company stocks to plummet. To prevent this financial disaster, the company is trying to slowly go through this crucial transition and thus try to minimize the potential harmful impact on the company stock valuation.

Based on this assumption, TheNextWeb opinionates that Steve Jobs will not return to the steer of Apple and, based on this situation, Apple will have to prove to the world that it can remain the same innovative and cool company as it was under Steve Jobs’ leadership as well.

A brand tightly connected with its leadership (actually gravitating around Steve Jobs in terms of definition of success), Apple will most probably suffer an important brand value loss by losing its most powerful associative image. Similar to Jack Welch’s retirement from the General Electric leadership, Steve Jobs’ departure from Apple will leave the company without the limitless resources of his innovative mind. If GE was a market leader and the largest company in the world when Jack Welch retired, Apple, although a market leader in some of his product lines, is still a challenger in a few market segments.

This type of loss for a company of Apple’s stature brings into light the real problem of succession planning. Identifying a company brand with an individual brand in the customers’ minds through can cause an important brand loss when a part of the perceived brand value is lost through the departure of an individual. How important is it then for a company to embark on this train towards success having a powerful individual as its engine and are the wins during the trip worth the losses at the end of it?

(originally published at: blog.ceubusiness.ro)

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