Steve Jobs and Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business School gave us George Bush and many of the CEOs and deep thinkers that have crashed the economy. So who better to turn to when considering Steve Jobs than the Harvard Business Review.

Jobs, for all of his virtues, clings to the Great Man Theory of Leadership – a CEO-centric model of executive power that is outmoded, unsustainable, and, for most of us mere mortals, ineffective in a world of non-stop change. A Wired magazine cover story from last year made the point well. [A Wired article] begins with a memorable anecdote – the CEO, in search of a space in the company’s crowded parking lot, regularly leaves his Mercedes in a handicapped space, sometimes taking up two spaces. The pattern became so noticeable that employees, according to the article, put notes on his windshield that read, Park Different.

The winners in competitive capitalism seldom are emblems of virtue.

The HBR article is titled “Decoding Steve Jobs: Trust the Art, Not the Artist”, but Duchamp said, “I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.” You would like to believe it was a cute flip to begin a critique of Jobs, but not. Also, Duchamp was something of a pretentious space cadet besides being an interesting outlier conceptualist, so I don’t know about quoting him for insight.