That changes things. Many smart people show up on the TV show Jeopardy, right? Guess who beat them all? IBM’s Watson supercomputer, arguably the smartest personage on planet earth. Guess what? Watson has an opinion about Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Vision vs. Imagination
Most of us who have prognosticated upon Apple for the past few decades would crown Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs with the vision thing. Look at what Jobs brought to bear during his second coming. He saved Apple, launched the Mac’s rebirth, opened Apple Stores, co-designed the iPod, put the music industry on iTunes, and left us with iPhone and iPad. Visionary? Sure. Why not?
Many of us who have watched closely since Jobs died would would not apply the same vision classification to current CEO Tim Cook, but IBM’s Watson supercomputer comes close. According to a job search company:
[Paysa] used IBM’s supercomputer Watson to determine that Apple CEO Tim Cook is the tech industry’s “most imaginative” leader. Cook is followed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Cisco’s Chuck Robbins.
Tim Cook? Apple’s Tim Cook?
It’s clear why “having or showing creativity or inventiveness” would be important for tech titans. After all, they’re tasked with leading employees to innovate new products and come up with solutions to problems that may not even exist yet.
Fair enough, but all Tim Cook has launched since Jobs died in 2011 is Apple Watch and AirPods, both iPhone accessories. That’s not exactly Jobsian in nature.
What is the vision thing anyway?
People want leaders who look beyond today. They want to have the sense there is a master plan to carry them through whatever short-term trials and tribulations arise. (The recession! The crazy media landscape! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!) They look to the leader to articulate, in a compelling way, a clear and positive future state toward which they can direct their efforts. When leaders focus only on the current crisis or this quarter’s numbers, it seems to us that they’re more interested in maintain the status quo or protecting themselves than in creating a successful future. They are not seen as leaders.
Ah, now I get it. Jobs had all that and the product vision. Tim Cook has most of that, but less of the product vision for the future. At least, from what we’ve seen in recent products, not as much as Jobs.
Steve Jobs-like vision and imaginative leader are not the same thing.
People also want to see that the leader’s farsightedness is based on a deep sense of what’s necessary, right, and good for the business and the team rather than what’s simply expeditious, popular, or self-serving. We want to feel that our leaders’ “far-sight” is focused on the greater good, that their vision promotes the group and not just their own selfish interests. A truly farsighted leader envisions a possible future that responds to and resonates with people’s aspirations for their individual and collective success. When employees or potential employees hear about the good leader’s vision, their visceral response is, “Yes, I want to go there too.”
So, take it from Watson and Apple’s current Board of Directors. Tim Cook is an imaginative leader.
Cook has demonstrated his own prowess since taking over as CEO in 2011. He’s overseen the company as it’s developed a slew of new products, including (sic) as driverless cars.
Say what? Slew of new products? Driverless cars? That came from a misguided human and not from Watson.