iSuccession: Steve Jobs’ final big achievement

I briefly considered writing a blog post about Steve Jobs’ departure from Apple last week, but it seemed rather unnecessary – the last thing the world needed was another blogger pitching in on the subject when it seemed everyone on the Internet was already doing exactly that. So instead, I’ll be very brief on the subject now that the immediate furore about it has quietened down.

Obviously, Apple will miss Jobs – how could it not? He transformed the company, and through Apple he transformed our lives. That’s literally no exaggeration, as I sit here surrounded by my iMac, iPhone, iPad, iPod …

But perhaps one of Steve Jobs top ten achievements is how he finally managed to write himself out of the Apple story. A few years back, when the news about his ill health first broke, he and Apple were blasted for (a) concealing the information, and (b) having no transition plan, no line of succession for a post-Jobs era. They were right to be criticised on both counts.

Fast forward to last week: Apple and Jobs have used the intervening time to bring along and put in place the people they needed for the transition. Jobs’ long heath sabbaticals had allowed the transition to be road-tested and the next generation leaders to become established and well known in the industry. By the time Jobs handed in his letter of resignation it no longer seemed alarming or unplanned for, just confirmation of what we knew had been the situation for some time. Apple hadn’t crumbled in the meantime with Jobs off ill, and so we are reassured that it wasn’t going to go horribly wrong now he’s stepped down, either.

The moment for succession has arrived; it had been planned for; and it has worked, in just the way that five years ago it never could have.

In the meantime the general reaction of the blogosphere was a slew of near-eulogies for Steve Jobs, which slightly irked me – he hasn’t died after all, just stepped down as CEO. That’s no cause for weeping and wailing and the rending of garments. Not yet, at least.

Of course in the back of our minds we wonder about Steve Jobs’ health and prognosis in the light of his resignation. But you know what? It really isn’t any of our business now. Five years ago, when Jobs and the Apple board were borderline-illegally concealing relevant information about the company from shareholders by refusing to discuss the state of Jobs’ health, it was very much a matter of public concern and debate. But not now, not that he’s stepped down as CEO and left the shop in the hands of Tim Cook – now it’s a private matter for Jobs once again, and rightly so.

So it really is none of our damn business, and I’m not going to comment or prognosticate on the issue at all. Instead I’ll just wish Steve Jobs and his family all the best for the future, whatever it may hold, and thank him and the team at Apple for the ways in which they have contributed to all of our lives. And also, thanks for not screwing up the company in the leaving of it.


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