A Change of Leader: The Case of Apple

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    • 00:11

      SCOTT TAYLOR: My name is Scott Taylor,and I am a reader in leadership and organization studiesat Birmingham Business School, the Universityof Birmingham in the UK.A case study I'm going to talk about todayis a company which is familiar to most of us, Apple.If you go around the room with 30 students in it,you'll usually find that of those 30 students,

    • 00:33

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: almost everyone owns a product by Appleor uses a service provided by Apple.Often, people put up their hand to saythat they own four or five products made by this company.By some measures, it's the largest publicly tradedcompany in the world, and it's certainly

    • 00:54

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: one which is present in our everyday lives.Specifically, I want to talk about the peopleat the top hierarchically of that organization,the people we usually think of Apple's leaders.And within that group, I want to talk a little bitabout Steve Jobs.Because the case study that I've been working on

    • 01:15

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: with a colleague, Emma Bell from Keele University,is a case study of responses to Steve Jobs's death in 2011.We think this case study is important becauseof the responses to the news about Steve Jobs's death.Most people know that he died relatively early in life,

    • 01:37

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: in his mid '50s.And the response to that relatively unexpected and earlydeath, we think, tells us something significantabout the position of contemporary organizationsin people's lives, both as consumers and producersof technology.The purpose of this case study specifically

    • 02:00

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: is to encourage all of us to thinkabout how we relate to the peoplethat we see as leaders in our lives.In this case, we're thinking about the leaderof an organization which provides products--products which can carry a significant emotional resonanceto the people who buy them and use them.

    • 02:22

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: We also want to think about the organization involved here--Apple-- and what the organizational response isor should be or can be to the departure of a leader.Obviously, in the specific case of Apple,we're thinking about the death of a leader.But leaders of organizations will always

    • 02:44

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: depart at some point in some way.No leader of an organization continues forever.And in contemporary Western societies, the tenure--the length of service-- of organizational leadersis increasingly short, particularly in countrieswhich pursue a more Anglo-Saxon form of capitalism,

    • 03:06

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: such as the UK and the US.This research project was very opportunistic.So most of the time when we do research on organizationsand leadership, we have to plan researchvery carefully for a long period of timebefore we start to collect the data.

    • 03:28

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: You develop a set of research questions.You develop a set of research methods,data collection processes, and thenyou put those into practice.This research was somewhat different in that respect,because we weren't expecting thereto be a change of leadership at Apple in 2011.Steve Jobs had been ill for a long period of time,

    • 03:50

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: but his death was still unexpected.So in October 2011, when we startedto see reports of Jobs's death emerging in global news media,we decided very quickly, within a matter of days,to try to capture and collect some of those reports.

    • 04:10

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: And we did this in part because researchusing social media and internet communication technologyoften suggests that the data whichis generated through this media can be very ephemeral.It disappears after two or three days.So it's not like generating your own datathrough interviews with managers or questionnaires

    • 04:34

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: or that kind of research method.You're much more following the dataand trying to capture it before it disappears.So we monitored news media, primarily the mainstream newsmedia-- CNN, BBC-- but also more internet-basednews media, such as Huffington Post and then

    • 04:54

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: other social media websites, in orderto try to get a sense of what people were saying and thinkingabout the death of Steve Jobs.We also collected more than 100 imagesfrom mainstream press agencies, such as Associated Pressand Reuters.

    • 05:14

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: We did this because it quickly became clearthat responses to Steve Jobs's deathwere being articulated not only through words,but through images.And some of those images were being capturedby professional photographers, but manyof the images that we came acrosswere also being generated by the peoplemourning for Jobs's death.

    • 05:37

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: And they were Apple consumers, Apple customers,people like you and me who had bought iPhones and iPadsand who used them.About two weeks after Jobs died, a third playerentered our data set, if we can think of it in that way.We had regular news media, we had Apple customers,

    • 05:59

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: and then we had Apple as a corporation.Apple opened an online condolence book for peopleto send messages to the company, which would thenbe published on the Apple website-- messageswhich gave a clear sense of what Jobs had meant to those people

    • 06:19

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: or what Apple products meant to those people.Now, condolence books have been with us for a long time.In the UK, we saw condolence booksbeing set up for Princess Diana, for example, in the 1990sby her family when she died.But they had been around for about 150 years before that.

    • 06:40

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: This is unusual because it was an online condolencebook, which was made public by the companythat Jobs had co-founded and led and worked for.We collected around about 800 messagesfrom that condolence book to analyze for themes,and then we also tracked the activity

    • 07:03

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: which was happening within Apple-- such as,for example, a memorial service whichwas held on the Apple campus for Jobs around about two weeksafter he died.So we finished this process after about six to eight weekswith what we thought was an interesting data set.

    • 07:24

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: It's an unusual data set for management and organizationstudies.In this research field, we tend to relyon more researcher-generated data, such as interviewswith managers and leaders or questionnaires distributedwithin an organization or a sector.With this data set, it's a little bit unusual,

    • 07:44

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: because we followed the data as it was being generated,mostly in public spheres.With this data set, we wanted to try to do three key things.First of all, we wanted to explorethe meaning of leadership for people

    • 08:06

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: in contemporary societies, and specifically, the meaningof leadership coming from large corporationslike Apple, which have an economic purpose in creatingan emotional bond between the consumer and the company.We think that the data that we collected following

    • 08:28

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: Steve Jobs's death provides insight into that,because for any group of people, the death of oneof its community is a key moment, bothwhen emotions are articulated, but also,when change is possible.We think that there has been change

    • 08:50

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: within the community of Apple consumers since 2011when Steve Jobs died.There's also been a series of relatively clear changeswithin the organization.And the data set or analysis of this data set, we think,provides insight into both of those processes of change.

    • 09:13

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: The second thing we wanted to do in analyzing this data setwas to ask a series of critical questions,or perhaps to encourage followersto ask critical questions of themselves, of ourselves,in relation to the status and the emotion

    • 09:34

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: that we invest in leaders-- again,specifically, leaders of commercial corporationssuch as Apple.The third aspect of analysis in relation to this data setwas that we wanted to try to understandthe contemporary nature of charisma.Charisma as a concept has been with us

    • 09:57

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: for more than 100 years.It was first developed by a German sociologist, Max Weber,who was analyzing the developmentof religious organizations in Western Europe.It's been adopted within the field of leadership studies,but it's primarily been adopted as a means of understanding

    • 10:19

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: charismatic leaders that can transform organizations.And most of the research that's been conducted in that areahas been based on questionnaire data set and alsoon more functionalist analyses.So we wanted to try to provide something differentin that respect.But the key thing is to bring the original idea of charisma

    • 10:44

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: as it was developed by Weber into the contemporary settingin secular organizations.So Weber was thinking and writingabout religious organizations.There's a strong argument to say that religionhas declined in its relative significancethrough the 20th century.

    • 11:05

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: But there's also an argument to say that other organizations--and therefore, other leaders-- havebegun to-- if not replace, then suddenly to complement the roleof leadership in societies.It would be glib to suggest that Appleis a religious organization and that Jobs could be understood

    • 11:30

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: as a religious leader.But both Apple as an organization and Jobsas a leader certainly manifest aspectsof what we would expect religions and religious leadersto be in people's lives.One of the key aspects of this case

    • 11:51

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: is the sector or the context.Apple is obviously a technology company.They're producing technology and technology servicesfor more than 40 years.Now, this is part of the mythology whichhas grown up around Apple, as we can see in other technology

    • 12:12

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: organizations, such as Google and Facebook.We find a very strong narrative about the developmentof the organization.But it's a narrative which is very specific,and which you can see reproduced in a number of different ways.The context of the technology industry

    • 12:34

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: we tend to think of as a geographical context.So when we think about Apple, we think about California,we think about Silicon Valley and the Cupertino campusthat Apple now operates from.There is also a second geographical aspectto the technology industry in the case of Apple,

    • 12:55

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: which is where the products are actually manufactured and puttogether.For Apple, that's southern China.And number of researchers-- particularly a groupbased in Manchester University-- have teased outthe relationship between Apple as a company in California

    • 13:16

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: and the manufacturers and producers of the technologyin southern China.So this is a kind of context that Apple exists within.The part of the company that we'reinterested in in this case study is the part which, if you like,produces the brand.So when you buy an Apple product and you look at box

    • 13:37

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: on the back, it usually says designed in California,manufactured in China.So we're interested here in this case study about the designaspect of the company-- not the design of the products,but the design of the community of Apple customers.The second key aspect, then, of this case study

    • 13:58

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: is the design and development or a customer community.And this is perhaps, we think, the key legacythat Steve Jobs has left to Apple as a corporationand to the technology sector more generally.Most researchers working in business skills,particularly in marketing departments,

    • 14:20

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: will suggest that Apple's success has been in part dueto technology and design, but also in part due to brandingand the creation of community.If you're old enough to remember Apple computers in the 1980s,they were notorious for their good design,

    • 14:43

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: but also notorious for their lack of reliabilityand the fact that they had a very small share of the market.Now, Apple executives, including Steve Jobs at this time,realized that the quality of the design, but then alsothe enthusiasm of the people who bought the computersdespite their unreliability could form part

    • 15:06

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: of the brand of the company.So in the mid 1980s, they appointeda man called Guy Kawasaki to a newly-created post,and his job title was Chief Evangelist.And his job was to go into the then-relatively-small homecomputer market and to try to create community, and create

    • 15:31

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: community with the purpose of selling Apple products by wordof mouth and creating a kind of buzz around them.You can still see this to some extenttoday when you see new product launches for, for example,Apple iPhones, and you find people queuing for 24 hours

    • 15:51

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: all night outside Apple shops.So in that respect, it's been an incredibly successful strategy.And it's one of the things that Jobswas very active in creating.The significance of this is reallythe third aspect of the case study,and it's what we see as central, whichis the positioning of Steve Jobs as a leader

    • 16:14

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: within this community.Most charismatic communities-- mostreligious or quasi-religious communities--will be initially developed by someonewho can be categorized as a charismatic leader.And Steve Jobs put himself in this position,

    • 16:37

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: but then also was positioned as charismaticover the course of his working lifewith Apple and with other organizations.So the case study of Apple and Steve Jobsand how the organization and the individualinteracted with the customer community, we think,

    • 16:58

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: is able to shed light on a number of different issues.When we come to analyze the data that we collected in the periodimmediately following Steve Jobs's death,we're concentrating on two key issues.The first thing is the follower response

    • 17:19

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: to the death of a leader.And in Steve Jobs's case, the follow responsewas very clear, very extensive, and relatively extended.So we saw people leaving flowers, for example,outside Apple shops around the world, from Shanghai to Sydney

    • 17:39

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: to New York to London.We also saw people traveling to Steve Jobs's familyhome in California to leave notes and to leave flowers.And we also saw a lot of people taking photographsof the memorials and then posting those photographs

    • 18:00

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: online with commentaries about what Jobs and Apple meantto them.So the follower response immediately after Jobs's deathwas relatively coherent and common around the world.The second aspect of the data analysis,

    • 18:21

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: which complements and challengers the first part,is the corporate response.Followers were clearly responding to the loss of Jobsas an individual present in their livesby suggesting that they wanted both to commemorate his life

    • 18:43

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: and death, but also to maintain a sense of his presence.They did this in a number of ways.They did it by taking photographs of themselvescommemorating Jobs's death.They also did it, some of them, by adopting the same dressthat Jobs had worn-- New Balance sneakers and Levi's jeans

    • 19:06

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: and black polo necks.And then they obviously did it by sharingthose experiences that they had had with Apple productsand when they'd been watching Jobs present.The corporate response, we think,was quite different, can be understood quite differently.

    • 19:28

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: Our analysis of the data generated from within Apple--so memorial service and condolence, but also interviewsconducted with senior executives workingwithin Apple in the four years or sosince Jobs's death-- suggests that theyare keen for both individual Apple customers, but also Apple

    • 19:52

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: employees, to move on from seeingSteve Jobs as a significant presence in their working livesand their consumer lives.We think this is happening because the organization hasto continue.

    • 20:12

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: Apple is an enormous organizationwhich employs thousands of people in the USand is indirectly responsible for tens of thousandsof people earning a living around the world,so it's very, very important that Apple as an organizationcontinues.If we remember that Steve Jobs both co-founded Apple and led

    • 20:35

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: the organization for the best part of 40 years,he was and still is the most significant personin that corporation.And that makes his departure, his death,significant in multiple ways.Obviously, as a presence, he's no longer there,

    • 20:55

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: so he's not able to actually do work which contributestowards the development and the sale of products,but he's also present or absent as a symbolic figure.Because Steve Jobs has died and not simply left Apple,

    • 21:16

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: then his physical absence is now permanent.And this is one of the key issues,we think, that Apple as an organizationhas to try to manage, both within the companyand in relation to its consumers.Jobs made clear before he died that he didn'twant to become a sort of ghostly presence

    • 21:39

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: at Apple after his death.He claimed that he had seen what thathad done to a company like Disney,for example, when its founder, Walt Disney, died,and employees there were continually asking themselves,what would Walt do?What would Walt think of this work?Jobs was very clear in publicly stating

    • 22:01

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: that he wanted Apple employees and executives notto ask those questions after he had gone.So the corporate response is very different to the customerresponse.The customer response suggests memory,and it suggests continuing a relationshipand continuing bonds with the person, the leader, who

    • 22:25

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: has departed.The corporate response is almost entirely focusedon moving on, on acknowledging the departed leaderas a significant actor in the company's past,but not maintaining him as an everyday presence.And so we think that those two responses--

    • 22:47

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: and in particular, the difference in those tworesponses-- is very significant.That brings us to the third aspect of the analysis, whichis where we bring the first two together-- so, if you like,to conclude our story of responses to Steve Jobs's deathinside and outside Apple.

    • 23:10

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: And that's where we find the potential for a conflictor the potential for some kind of dissonancebetween the response of customersand the corporate response.And this is where we start to explore and thinkabout and speculate on the process of managingthe departure of a charismatic leader.

    • 23:33

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: Clearly, in this case, with one of the largest corporationsin the world, with probably the most significant and prominentcorporate leader of the last 20 or 30 years,this is a task which is going to beextremely difficult for the people still workingwithin Apple.

    • 23:54

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: It's not simple.It's not easy, and it's probably notgoing to be a smooth process.What makes it more difficult, we think,is the active participation of Appleas a company in the construction of an emotional communitythrough its products.So Apple as a company has very actively encouraged

    • 24:18

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: emotional investment in its products.This is partly a question of design,but we think it's also partly a question of branding.If we go back to the 1980s when Applewas trying to create community around its early personalcomputers, we can see a continuation of thatthrough products such as the iPhone

    • 24:38

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: or iPad where the branding suggests,the marketing suggests, that we should become emotionallyinvolved with these products.The creation of a community in thatsense-- a community of customers and consumers--is something which is potentiallythreatened by the departure of the leader of the community.

    • 25:01

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: And Steve Jobs was very clearly positionedby both Apple consumers and his colleaguesas the symbolic leader of that community.So his departure-- his sadly early death--has the potential to threaten the community.

    • 25:22

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: Most of the research that we havesuggests that Apple executives have a series of choices.They can choose to try to maintain Jobsas a presence in the structure of the organization.They can try to maintain the organization rather thanthe individual, or they can try to maintain the customer

    • 25:45

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: community.Now, obviously, it's unclear what'sgoing to happen in the future to Apple and to that community.But we think the kind of analysisthat we've been doing over the last four yearswith the data set that we put togetherat the start of this process or Apple dealing

    • 26:05

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: with the loss of a leader should be able to provide insightinto both the process and the options opento the executives working within Apple,and also to the consumer, the customer, the followercommunity.So the purpose of this case study

    • 26:27

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: has been to explore the contemporary dynamicsof leadership, and specifically, the constructionof charismatic leadership.We've chosen to look at the case of Apple and Steve Jobsbecause that company and that individualare extremely prominent in contemporary economic life

    • 26:49

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: and organizational life.We do think, though, that the dynamics that we've observedhere in the departure of a leaderand how that departure affects the organization thatis left behind can be extended to understandingmany other organizations, smaller and larger--

    • 27:13

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: not necessarily in the technology industry,but in other sectors as well.All leaders in organizations will, at some point, leave.Most of them won't die.They'll just depart.They'll go to another job.They will retire.But there's always an organizationand a group of people left behind by that leader.

    • 27:36

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: This is usually just a group of employees who havea relationship to the leader.But in the case of Apple and in some other organizations,it can also be the group of customers and consumers.Part of the nature of high profilecharismatic leadership in companies such as Apple,

    • 27:57

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: but also in other organizations such as Virgin,based in the UK, is to encourage an emotional relationshipbetween the customer and the organization and the leader.And so the departure of the leaderchallenges that relationship.The key issue for the employees and the customers left behind

    • 28:21

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: by the departed leader, then, is to make senseof that emotional relationship.Obviously, for the organization, there's an economic effectif the customer then decides to move on to another organizationor to follow another charismatic leaderand to buy their products.But there are also very significant issues internally

    • 28:42

      SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: within the organization in encouraging employeesto think of themselves as followers of that leaderand to come to terms in whatever way they'recomfortable with with the departure of the leader.So that's the reason for exploring this casestudy and its significance.

A Change of Leader: The Case of Apple

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Unique ID: bd-busmgt-case-acoltcoa-AA03215


Using Apple as a case study, Dr. Scott Taylor discusses change in leadership and the effect it can have on a corporation. Apple's leader, Steve Jobs, built an emotional relationship with consumers and employees through his charismatic leadership. After his death, corporate and customer responses were very different.

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A Change of Leader: The Case of Apple

Using Apple as a case study, Dr. Scott Taylor discusses change in leadership and the effect it can have on a corporation. Apple's leader, Steve Jobs, built an emotional relationship with consumers and employees through his charismatic leadership. After his death, corporate and customer responses were very different.

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