The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Scott Forstall, is apparently out of Apple because he didn’t want to apologize to the public for the whole maps and Siri mess. Products he was responsible for.
Why is this important? Are we seeing arguably “the most innovative company in the world” starting to implode in front of us?
I don’t think so. I think this move is a clarification of purpose. See, when you operate by a different set of beliefs established by a Heretic founder, purpose precedes being nice.
With that said, here’s a question posed by Altimeter Partner @jowyang:
Shouldn’t a CEO ultimately be responsible for a product failure and wins?What does this say about Apple Chief? cc @eportelance
— Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) October 30, 2012
Should Tim Cook be fired because of Apple’s recent uncharacteristic behavior? Here’s the thing. If it were any other company that operates by the same old MBA dogma, then the answer may be yes. But this is Apple. One can say that it was Steve Jobs who was responsible for product success and wins, and like every founder to a large extent, he was. But he was not, because Apple has a culture of accountability. One only needs to know three words to drive this point home: DRI (Directly Responsible Individual).
This simple concept helps reinforce and clarify what one is committed and responsible for.
You can’t buy culture, only shape it
As I said, Apple operates by a different set of beliefs. One important one being: Excellence is expected, and you are responsible for it. There is no room for pussies here.
Most people cannot operate in an environment like this. The CEO might be responsible for establishing and maintaining this culture, as Tim Cook is doing, but ultimately, everyone else plays a role in the failures and successes of the organization. It is not like sports where the Coach gets kicked to the curb when the team isn’t doing well. Holding everyone accountable sends a clear message that “no star” is safe and everyone receives the same treatment.
Is this type of environment conducive to innovation? It is, but so are others. The key, I believe, is people should be inspired and aspire to do great work. You need focused enthusiasm to help drive innovation breeding behavior in any type of environment.
What do you think, should the CEO be held responsible for innovation failure and wins?