Friday, 10 June 2011

Arrogance? Responsibility, we think


Toppers generally generate two diametrically opposite feelings. People either love them, or hate them.

Our worries come when we think that usually there are far more haters than lovers, when it comes to toppers. Or not? Human nature, they say… and for the good and the bad, we are humans. Even toppers are.

We have read and heard lots of comments that are perfectly valid samples of this. About successful companies, about successful people, about successful products… and all the negative comments come usually from those who would like to be part of whatever success we are talking about, by the way.

One of the most clear examples is the success story of Apple’s.

Just google “Apple Arrogance”, and your screen will be filled up with several pages of links about that supposed arrogance from Apple’s.

Now… how much of that arrogance is pure desire of being part of Apple’s success?

Let’s put a recent and practical example.

We could select any of the millions of occurrences of Steve Jobs presenting anything to God-knows-what-audience. But those are not new, driven by marketing masters, and have many conditioning facts that do not make them natural.

This week, Steve Jobs presented a project to the City Hall of Cupertino about what they would like to do regarding their new HQ.


This time it was not really about a new product, a new marketing message. This time it was not about technology. This time it was about one of the inhabitants in the town looking for a new home because his current one had run out of space.

And this guy was not looking for the best manor. His focus was on how his new manor would actually generate progress for the community. It was a win-win project. Or not?

Talking arrogance, we could highlight some specifics from Jobs’ presentation:

1. Can anyone imagine any CEO of any company remotely comparable to Apple taking the time and the passion to present the project to any City Hall in the country? We mean, can anyone visualize Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Stephen Elop, LeĆ³ Apotheker or Michael Dell spending time that way? Would this guys not be delegating the task to someone of their staff at least?

2. Can anyone imagine any of those biggies really caring about making sure, to the last detail, that they made the best-in-class working site besides their own personal office? Would they not delegate that task to someone of their staff at least?

3. Would any of these biggies really get a spontaneous applause just for the fact of appearing in the room? (Well, to be fair, we must consider we are talking America, and Americans are really fond of applauding… they even do when a plane lands…).

4. Can anyone imagine any of these biggies really caring about the impact and the benefit for the community?

Where’s the arrogance? Whatever it is that they might call it arrogance, we would rather call it responsibility. The responsibility on behalf of the community that could naturally be expected from the biggest tax-payer in it. The same responsibility that you would expect from a man towards his family, from a teacher towards his pupils, from a doctor towards his patients.

Don’t lose ground: Steve Jobs was not presenting in front of millionaires looking for investment opportunities. Nor was he talking in front of powerful press communicators that can make or break a company’s reputation; nor was he talking in front of politicians or celebrities, nor in front of brilliant academics.

He was simply talking to third line local politician apprentices (will all due respect to the Cupertino City Hall, but we honestly do not believe any of them will appear in any book of History any time soon. He was talking to mere civil servants… mere administrators of the town resources. Mere temporary employees of the community they represent.

And… sadly enough, these politicians had the guts to request “favors” in return of their approval of Jobs’ project!!!! Favors like free WIFI infrastructure or free iPads whatsoever.

Where’s the dang arrogance here? Who are this low-ranked civil servants to attempt this bargaining? For God’s sake… had they not realized the enormous milestone Jobs’ project can mean to their town to try to save a few hundred bucks each?

Fortunately for Cupertino, it looks that Jobs is going away with his plans. Unfortunately for him, it could very well be that he is not going to be there by 2015 to cut the ribbon…