Colin Barry

Tools of Cooperation/John Sculley at Apple (BSSE, Tuesday, Week 11)


Not sure I agree with a lot of the take-aways, but...

Figure out where your organization stands, because it will determine (1) how easy it will be to adapt to change and (2) what tools will be effective within the organization:

Upper-right organizations are resistant to change (Apple in the 80s).
How does this happen? The causal mechanism for developing a culture is repeated success.
Similarly, the causal mechanism for breaking down a culture is stress or failure.

So how do leaders change an organization that is running fine right now but is not equipped for the future?
Establish a sense of urgency? Break organization into smaller BUs, set goals, delegate responsibility, cut ruthlessly (standard BSSE answer)?
It's not easy to do.
Strong argument that Jobs would have sunk the ship just as thoroughly as Sculley/Spindler/Amelio --- Apple needed to experience serious trauma to break down the culture of making "elegant PCs at whatever the cost" (in the words of Gassee). Only on the brink of bankruptcy could a CEO dramatically shift the organization's priorities...

I don't buy it.
Too deterministic and at odds with everything I have seen about leadership in the actual world. Some people can convince others to do things they would prefer not to do. Other people can't.
Serious, quantifiable failure is not the only casual mechanism for change (although failure is a great teacher).