Will Lack of Planning Hurt Apple?

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2011-10-26 Print this article Print


Enderle said that lack of planning could make things difficult for Apple going forward.

"Apple was incredibly dependent on Steve Jobs, who made himself indispensable, and his executive office was made up of a team of people who together covered the critical skill set," he wrote. "He actually worked against training a replacement because he was afraid of being prematurely replaced, so Apple is now left with a huge hole where Jobs used to be."

That said, Apple only now is entering its post-Jobs phase, and it's too early to say how the company and its customers will respond. The day before Jobs' death, Apple launched its latest iPhone-the iPhone 4S-which reportedly sold 4 million units in its first weekend. And while Cook may lack the charisma of his predecessor, he worked closely with Jobs and has a deep understanding of the company.

However, IBM is now most likely in better shape, thanks to a corporate culture that seeks out potential CEO candidates from within the ranks and spends years preparing them for the moment that they're appointed to the top slot, according to the analysts. Enderle, who has participated in IBM's succession process, said the company looks for executives who can manage the breadth of IBM's businesses, are successful in the jobs they're given and can build consensus.

"It is a rigorous process and it includes detailed training from recognized leaders in various disciplines in a variety of industries for breadth," he said. "The combination of experience and very unique training builds an executive with the capabilities and tested skills to run a company like IBM. While this doesn't assure success-the CEO job is unique-it makes it very likely, and over a century IBM has generally proven the process works."

That is the path that has brought Rometty to the CEO chair, according to King.

"Rometty worked in roles and business units across the company, and has deep insight and responsibilities related to virtually every major IBM strategic effort of the past decade or more," King said. "Along with being a terrific choice to replace Sam Palmisano, Rometty is a great example of IBM's managerial excellence and the company's deep executive bench."

According to Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, the fact that the announcement of Rometty's ascension surprised few people in the industry is a testament to IBM's executive practices.

"In fact, this is hardly any news at all, since IBM is nothing if not planned," Kay wrote in an Oct. 26 column on Forbes.com. "Palmisano knew the trajectory of his reign at IBM almost from the time he started. This is what you call an orderly transition. ... IBM likes predictability, as do its customers, and this transition has been envisioned for a long time. Palmisano spotted Rometty early and has groomed her for eons." 


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