What Do Steve Jobs and Josef Stalin have in Common? Thought Vacuum in their Management Teams

When Josef Stalin died in a dachka outside Moscow, there was no announcement for 36 hours. Stalin’s management team, the Politburo, were frozen with no idea how to continue alone now that their leader had departed. Stalin was so commanding that the Politburo members had had little experience taking initiatives or making decisions.

Apple, the world’s largest technology company, was driven by Steve Jobs who undoubtedly deserves universal praise for his vision and execution in the technology field. While it is unfair to compare him with Stalin (and I am not), there appears to be a ‘thought vacuum’ at Apple following Job’s death, just as there was at the Soviet Union post-Stalin.

Apple iPhone is under attack from Samsung, with the latter bombarding the smartphone market with dozens of innovations to test the consumer’s appetite for variations. Samsung, much like the USA in the 50’s and 60’s, is driving competition in the smartphone market – big screens, more megapixels, software widgets, cheaper handsets etc etc. Apple, on the other hand, is sticking to the basic handset configuration that their Great Leader Steve Jobs pioneered, much like the Soviet Union stuck to their industrial policy during the 50’s and 60’s.

Apple’s management is underwhelming and this could spell the end for its dominance. Their adherence to fighting a patent lawsuit against Samsung only spurred the Korean to innovate faster.

Samsung has ordered 100M handsets for their latest Galaxy range while Apple is content growing sales with their mini-ipad (which is not a phone). In the face of Samsung’s fierce challenge, were he alive, Jobs would recant his previously held view that ‘the iphone’s screen is big enough’ and go head-to-head with the Koreans.

Alas, Apple’s management team cannot challenge their former leader’s thinking.

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