The Bozo Explosion at the house that Steve built

Love him or loath him, Steve Jobs was a great  manager. A great manager creates great employees. A great manager takes adequate people and turns them into great people. A great manager is then the Quality of Service signature on the work that said employees delivers to end users, be it consumers or business partners.  A great manager get employees to think they are better than they are.

A great employee realizes this. A great employee realizes they are in a symbiotic relationship with their manager and allot of their current state is because of their interaction with their manager.  A great employee can eventually become a great manager. BUT..

Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K Bill S. Preston, Esq.

A bad manager flips and flops between gifted people. A bad manager has no clear sense of direction but uses partisan politics to get his or her will through. Siding with one strong opinion while negating a valid, but wrong opinion.

A bad employee believes they are as good as their manager says they are and eventually get content. A bad employee does not recognize that they need their manager in order to be an A class employee.

Employees are sometimes great sometimes bad, it depends on their manager.

Steve Jobs was the epitome of an A Class manager. And he made his employees A Class employees. But he is gone and the vultures are circling.

Recently Scott Forstall was let go of Apple. Now, if you read his CV make no mistake that this cat made NeXT to OSX and then upped the ante and realized iOS. iOS changed the world MUCH more than the iPhone’s iconic design.(I know I worked for Nokia when it was released and even as a 2G device iOS kicked the backside of anything we had EVER developed even with 50% less features) Letting Forstall go is like letting one of the building blocks of a pyramid go because he is not as noticed as the figurehead Jonny Ive. The guy is brilliant and him not wanting to be at Apple is a management failure. I do not for one iota believe that he refused to sign the the iOS Maps apology  as a singular reason for his departure. This is the world’s most valuable company not some high school breakfast club.

Steve Jobs realized that great products are the sum of their parts and he collected those parts under one umbrella.  Being a grade A moron at times but an excellent grade A moron.

A year after Steve Jobs’s death Apple is getting soft around the edges. (its not the company that I loved to despise) There is mush forming. From product leaks to bad naming conventions.  (MINI anyone?) From bad pricing strategies to failed retail ventures. Not really big issues but worrying signs. But most relevant for me is the fact that former A grade employees are turning in to B (ozo) grade managers. Simply because they cannot fill the void that management has left them with and with their Ayn Randian principles they actually believe they do not need a good manager.

Tim Cook is boring, let there be no doubt. I cannot dislike him as much as I disliked Steve Jobs. Jonny Ive? Well I believe that starched hospital towels have more charisma. Apple needs to get its groove back fast. I need them to be great so that I can lampoon them again and feel witty and smugg.


“The Bozo Explosion colorfully described by Steve Jobs is what happens to companies who make the mistake of hiring B-grade managers. Hire a B-grade manager, turn your back for a few months and then watch your business, once a shining example of excellence, get over-run by hordes of well-meaning incompetents, from the top right down to the tip of its toes. And the spectre of the unwelcome Bozo Explosion usually portends an inevitable decline in decision making, product quality or design, customer service – you name it, everything turns to mush. And unless you’re very lucky, say good-bye to your business. Oh, and that’s just for starters. Getting rid of a Bozo Explosion in your business is a whole other world of HR pain for which there’s unlikely to be a quick fix. “http://blog.xero.com/2012/05/bozo-explosions/