Will Tim Cook’s Apple become a leading Ethical Data Corporation?

March 6, 2015

Paul Hinks

Apple WatchWhen Tim Cook inherited Apple, it was as much an opportunity to fail rather than an opportunity to succeed in re-inventing to Corporation through transformative technologies in the spirit of Steve Job’s legacy. The proposed strategic move into Big Data may prove more significant even than the development of the much- anticipated Apple Watch

Apple’s ‘spring forward’ event scheduled for 9th March 2015 will showcase Apple’s upcoming innovations – including Apple’s much-anticipated watch . This is an important moment for Tim Cook.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tim Cook makes the case for an inclusive workplace

November 4, 2014

Paul Hinks

So Tim Cook is gay. The announcement wasn’t so much about the ‘outing’ of Tim Cook, as a message that openly supports diversity and equality in the workplace. The fact that Tim Cook is CEO of Apple, America’s largest firm, adds gravitas to the story.

Race, gender, age, disability, sexual preference are all topics with which organizations have to grapple. Firms are keen to demonstrate they are operating a diverse and ethical workplace where everyone has their fair chance regardless of their personal circumstance or outlook. Perhaps too many firms ‘talk the talk’ with the aim of ticking a box in a corporate brochure?

Tim Cook’s announcement provides an authentic message that Apple is an organization that understands the importance of providing support to ‘their most important asset’. Harnessing different perspectives from a diverse workforce provides a win:win – people with different values and background see things differently from those who are turned into generic corporate clones – walking and talking a certain way – it can all become a bit a dull, boring and predictable. Tim Cook’s announcement is not about him per se; it’s about promoting equality and diversity – and perhaps re-enforcing a culture that can provoke creativity and innovation.

Tim Cook has never denied being gay, but he is acknowledged and recognized as being a private individual. So to publicly make a statement about a private and personal matter, and then place the context of the statement around support for others deserves credit and recognition.

The New York Times provided insight and a deeper perspective:

As Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, put it, “He’s chief executive of the Fortune One. This is Tim Cook and Apple. This will resonate powerfully.”

Mr. Cook was plainly reluctant, and, as he put it in his essay in Bloomberg Businessweek, “I don’t seek to draw attention to myself.” But, he wrote, he came to the realization that “If hearing that the C.E.O. of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

Mr. Cook’s essay also seemed carefully drafted to be inclusive, to embrace anyone who feels different or excluded, which could broaden its impact far beyond the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Mr. Cook was “wonderfully candid about why it was difficult for him to come out,” said Kenji Yoshino, a constitutional law professor at New York University and co-author of “Uncovering Talent: a New Model for Inclusion.”

“When I give presentations on diversity and inclusion in organizations, I often start by noting that of the Fortune 500 C.E.O.s, 5 percent are women, 1 percent are black and zero percent are openly gay,” Professor Yoshino said.

In his essay, Mr. Cook wrote that he was many things besides being gay: “an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic.” Professor Yoshino noted: “When Drew Faust became the first female president of Harvard, she made a similar point. ‘I am not the woman president of Harvard,’ she said. ‘I’m the president of Harvard.’ ”

Apple’s future success

Since taking over the leadership of Apple from Steve Jobs in 2011, Tim Cook has demonstrated that he can successfully pilot the largest corporation in America. Tim Cook is not Apple’s ‘gay’ CEO, he’s Apple’s current and successful CEO.

In terms of competitiveness, Apple is currently riding the crest of a wave. The recent product launch of the iPhone 6 broke all records – so there’s no obvious need for a cheap publicity stunt. Tim Cook’s announcement shouldn’t be seen much as statement about himself, rather his statement symbolises the importance of providing an inclusive, diverse and stimulating workplace, one which supports new ideas, aims to look at the same situation from different perspectives – a culture true to Apple’s values – one which fosters creativity and innovation.

In the future, perhaps Tim Cook’s announcement will be reflected upon as the time when Apple took a leadership position in supporting diversity and equality in a positive and effective way. It will be interesting to see how many other industry leaders follow Mr Cook’s lead.


Satya Nadella’s leadership dilemmas at Microsoft begin with Nokia

August 5, 2014

Paul Hinks

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella became Microsoft’s third ever CEO in February 2014. He faces enormous challenges of change to an economic powerhouse

Since its inception 39 years ago, Microsoft has driven change. Its products have shaped and disrupted the IT landscape. Its desktop and server operating systems have become industry standards. Yet, relentless competition demands further changes. The new CEO recognizes the situation.

‘One Microsoft’

A few months into his appointment [10th July 2014], Nadella published an ‘internal memo ‘ in the public domain entitled: ‘One Microsoft’. The document provides insight into the strategic priorities at Microsoft – as well highlighting deeper leadership dilemmas. “The day I took on my new role I said that our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.” He wrote.

Changing landscapes and Microsoft’s previous success

Cloud Computing and Mobile technologies were focal points in the memo – repeated references to “a mobile-first and cloud-first world” emphasising where he feels Microsoft’s future lies.

A key dilemma and challenge for Nadella is that Microsoft no longer appears to be dominant in shaping the direction of the IT landscape. Microsoft’s desktop and server operating systems provide examples of different franchises that became de facto industry standards. Today we talk about firms such as Apple, Google and Amazon and how their products and services have momentum – the iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Android phones – as well various cloud services.

It isn’t that Microsoft hasn’t tried to succeed in these new marketplaces – it has. It’s just that Microsoft’s success doesn’t mirror the success of its competitors. Microsoft has attempted to break into the tablet market but Apple still leads the way. Windows mobile phones competes against Android phones and iPhones, but they do not enjoy the passionate following that their competition enjoys.

Microsoft Axes 18,000 jobs

The acquisition of Nokia in 2013 provides an example of Microsoft’s efforts. Nokia was itself a market leader in the mobile telecommunications market before suffering a number of setbacks which saw its products fall out of vogue. Some analyst at the time saw merit and synergy in Microsoft’s acquisition. However on Thursday [17th July 2014] the BBC reported that Microsoft was announcing a loss of 18,000 jobs globally – the bulk of the cuts to be at Nokia:

Microsoft pledged to cut $600m (£350.8m) per year in costs within 18 months of closing the acquisition – cuts that were much more severe than the 6,000 initially expected. Is this acknowledgement that the Nokia deal was ultimately a failure? Or is it an example of how knowledge, know-how and patented technology can be bought lieu of ethical leadership and employees’ livelihoods?

The Future direction of Microsoft?

Nadella and Microsoft appear to recognize the challenges ahead. Change is necessary. Cloud Computing infrastructures are maturing; mobile online access is now ubiquitous – Nedella’s memo acknowledges Microsoft’s need to adapt and respond – repeated references to “mobile-first and cloud-first world” provide a clear indication of where he sees Microsoft’s future. Will change at Microsoft result in the progress needed for Microsoft to remain a dominant force?

Bill Gates’ 1990 vision of ‘Information at your fingertips’, and then his keynote speech at Jan 1995 Comdex of ‘information at your fingertips ‘ provide evidence of how Microsoft’s first CEO led the way and helped shape an industry.

Nadella has one of the toughest jobs in the industry, made more challenging by an expectation that Microsoft can remain creative and innovate. Not an easy task.


Walmart faces ethical dilemmas after fire deaths in Bangladesh factory

November 4, 2013

Michael Duke WalmartThere are serious problems facing Walmart and Apple corporations over supply chain control and corporate social responsibilities

 

 

Last year saw Apple forced to address the ugly consequences of working practices down its supply chain at Foxconn manufacturing sites in China which had led to worker suicides. Now Walmart faces criticisms over its lack of controls over a supplier in The Tazreen fashions plant in Bangladesh whose factory fire at resulted in the death of over a hundred employees. The plant had failed safety inspections in 2011 and earlier in 2012. According to the New York Times, Walmart faces the dilemma of seeking the lowest prices from suppliers globally to deliver low price products while projecting a corporate image of high ethical standards and corporate social responsibility. In December [2012], Walmart’s CEO Michael T. Duke faced angry protesters in New York, at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting According to the New York Times:

Mr. Duke’s reassurances that Walmart enforces high standards in the global clothing industry appear to be contradicted by inspection reports it requested and some of Walmart’s own internal communications. Just two weeks before, a top Walmart executive acknowledged in an e-mail to a group of retailers that the industry’s safety monitoring system was seriously flawed. “Fire and electrical safety aspects are not currently adequately covered in ethical sourcing audits,” Rajan Kamalanathan, the executive, wrote to other board members of the Global Social Compliance Program, a business-led group focused on improving the supply chain. But even as the deadly Nov. 24 fire at the Tazreen factory has stirred soul-searching inside and outside the apparel industry about the effectiveness of its global factory monitoring system, some nonprofit groups say Walmart has shown little interest in changing the existing practice of demanding that the factories, often operating at razor-thin margins, meet fire safety standards at their own cost.

The evils of globalization?

 

The tragic fire in Tazreen, and the suicides at Foxconn factories, are seen by some as evidence of the evils of the globalization and the workings of supply chains. Others argue that the examples are flaws that can be put right in a system that is helping in the development and economic health of emerging nations. Neither argument is adequate of itself. The rhetoric of corporate social responsibility too often appears to speak more of espoused beliefs than of leadership actions.

If I ruled the [Walmart] world

“What if I were leader of the Walmart world?” One answer: I would become head of the great modern day church that provideth food to all its followers. And the followers find that the food is always good. Nor is the tithe too high a change. Should I listen to those who say that the good food and low tithes are through the labours of slaves who are not welcome in the churches of Walmark? Such a leader would need a new vision.

 

Updates Updates are planned for this post. Sign up for notifications

 

Monday 3rd November 2014

Walmart rethinks its global strategy. Cuts back its Japanese operations

 

Tuesday 27th January 2015

Taming third party risks.  Walmart compliance officer considers that assessing third party risks is nearly uncharted territory.

Not Very Smart Phones: Why George and Ira Gershwin would have foreseen the touch screen

October 22, 2013

George and Ira Gershwin would have foreseen the touch screen, argues LWD blogger William Thompson. They knew the dangers of mocking pioneers for their new ideas

‘They all laughed at Christopher Columbus
When he said the world was round
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound
They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother
When they said that man could fly
They told Marconi
Wireless was a phony…’

How long it is since every up and coming business executive could not be seen without their BlackBerry in hand, with that iconic QWERTY keyboard at the ready to make those all-important calls?
The Canadian-based company that cut 4500 jobs to counter losses has now been bought for £3 billion by a consortium led by Fairfax Financial. The parent company RIM did not see the touch-screen coming. Their CEO Thorsten Heins had made his presentation in Florida to launch new touch screen lifesaving models, but the smart phone community are not convinced, saying the company is too late.
In 2007 they laughed at Apple’s iPhone, asking the question who would pay $500 for a phone without a keyboard? The answer came back – everyone.

Nokia

Nokia, the one-time brand leader in the smart phone business was bought by Microsoft [September 2013] for 5.44 billion euros. Nokia employs over 100,000 people in 120 countries, so the fortunes of Nokia matter to many people. The Nokia operating system Symbian was allowed to become obsolete and outdated compared to Apple’s IOS 6 and now 7 and Google’s Android operating system. Nokia’s place in the smart phone market slumped as the company lost 40% of their share of the market in just over 12 months.

Apple

Steve Jobs resigned in 2011 as CEO of Apple after a period of serious illness. He handed over to Tim Cook. Sadly Jobs later died. As he left the company, iPhone 4 was their top phone; it has now been discontinued. A year is a long time in the smart phone business.

Apple launched their new operating system IOS 7 stating that it was their most secure system to date, yet within twenty four hours it was discovered that their lock screen pin code could be easily by passed. They were forced to issue IOS 7.2 to correct this security issue. Apple sold nine million of its new iPhone models in three days.

Smart Phone CEOs

The CEOs of the smart phone companies are high profile international figures. Steve Jobs’ keynote presentations were viewed worldwide: he was the messiah of the smart phone world community. Anonymous leaders they are not. Most of all they need to be seen as leaders who can see the ship heading for the rocks and make a change of course before collision. They need to see the touch-screen coming and the keyboard going, an operating system dying and another bursting into life, to see the rocks before the collision, to make life and death decisions at the right time in the product life cycle. They need to be chess players who can see three moves ahead.

Editor’s note:

William Thompson writes with insight about the leadership challenges in so-called high velocity environments. Leadership students may wish to ‘road test’ his suggestions, looking for difficulties in “seeing the rocks, and acting decisively”.

See also our earlier blog on GeekSpeak at Blackberry


Apple’s new leader faces ethical dilemmas at Foxconn

January 31, 2012

As Tim Cook picks up the leadership of Apple from Steve Jobs, he faces a significant ethical dilemma in Wuhan in a supplier’s company where workers threaten suicide in protest over their working conditions

THIS DEVELOPING STORY IS BEING UPDATED REGULARLY.  ADDITIONS ARE AT THE END OF THE ORIGINAL POST

by Paul Hinks

Articles recently reported that Tim Cook (Apple’s new CEO) earned $378m in 2011. He inherited a global technology juggernaut, renowned for its creativity and innovation; a business with $90 billion in cash reserves (The Guardian). Yet there are serious problems at one of its key suppliers, Foxconn, where a recent mass suicide threat posed an ethical dilemma facing Apple and its new leader.

The Telegraph reported [11th Jan 2012]:

Around 150 Chinese workers at Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, threatened to commit suicide by leaping from their factory roof in protest at their working conditions. The workers were eventually coaxed down after two days on top of their three-floor plant in Wuhan by Foxconn managers and local Chinese Communist party officials.

Not all measures should be financial

A lot of organisations highlight in their annual reports the progress they’ve made against various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) metrics. Very commendable, but it’s important to dig deeper beyond the glossy brochures and corporate fanfare. Increasingly social-economic factors come in to play, creating a conflict of priorities opposite financial metrics.

Apple is indeed well placed to influence the working conditions at Foxconn. Despite assurances from Apple on its website that it is committed to the highest standards of social responsibility across its worldwide supply chain, the evidence presented highlights that Foxconn employees are seriously aggrieved with their working conditions. In an online article published on Thursday 26 Jan 2012 Reuters noted Apple’s apparent silence on the Foxconn situation – referencing on-going investigations carried out by the New York Times, the Reuters article is an example of growing interest and awareness of the problems at Foxconn.

Difficult working conditions

The Foxconn situation has not developed overnight. The Guardian reported recently [16th Jan 2012] the problems had been developing since at least 2010:

In 2010, a total of 18 of their colleagues in the Shenzhen campus of the Taiwan-owned company did attempt suicide; 14 died. Some employees and labour organisations blamed a combination of factors for the workers’ deaths: low wages, long working hours – sometimes up to 16 hours a day – and inhuman treatment. A number of Apple products have been cited as ‘game changers’ – products that have helped to change how we use technology to live our lives – in stark contrast, it seems that the workforce at Foxconn that help to create these Apples products survive, and sadly tolerate a rather mundane existence. Loyal Apple consumers crave for their Apple products. However, it appears there is a darker, more un-savoury side to how Apple products make it to our shelves.

Leaders can’t ignore ethics

On Tuesday [Jan 24th 2012], Apple announced its financial results for its first fiscal quarter: the figures were impressive and beat analysts’ expectations. Bloomberg (& others) immediately focused on the financial merits of Apple’s results – increasing revenue forecasts & speculating on dividend payments – a few websites noted the share price increments of various Apple suppliers, including Foxconn.

This is all very good news if you’re an Apple shareholder – however will the fortunes of Apple mean anything to the workers in Wuhan?

I borrow a comment from Dilemmas of Leadership [1st edition, p196]: “For some leaders, matters of ethics arise as unwelcome intrusion in the pursuit of economic success”.

Apple’s financial strength isn’t in doubt; however Apple’s position on ethical topics such as the welfare of workers at its suppliers is clearly attracting increased interest. Continued negative media coverage of working conditions at its suppliers may begin to influence and alter customer perceptions of the Apple brand; perhaps ultimately impacting Apple’s cherished economic success?

The need for more than ethical tokenism

The Telegraph highlighted [27 Jan 2012] that Apple have been working on number of initiatives:

In response to outside pressure, Apple this year published a list of its 156 suppliers, representing almost all its supply chain, for the first time. It also joined the Fair Labor Association, becoming the first technology company to do so. Apple has also worked with Chinese labour rights advocates, environmental groups, and has agreed to allow outside monitors into its suppliers’ factories.

Hopefully, Mr Cook and Apple will ensure their corrective actions are interpreted as more than just ethical tokenism; the challenges presented at Foxconn provide an opportunity for Apple to lead by example beyond the technology forum where it enjoys such enviable success.

Background

Paul sent us updating information [Feb 14th 2012]  You can find more out about Paul in his earlier post on Antonio Horta-Osorio.

Update [LWD editors]

More than 10 people were injured in a fight that broke out among workers at a Foxconn plant in north China’s Shanxi Province, police said Monda [September 2012]

Foxconn, the world’s largest maker of computer components, faced criticism on harsh working conditions two years ago after a string of suicides committed by several Chinese factory employees. The company currently has about 1 million employees on the Chinese mainland.

The relationship between Foxconn and Apple flourishes. China Daily announced [May 2012]

Foxconn Technology Group will invest $210 million to build an Apple production line in October in east China’s Jiangsu province, local authorities announced Monday to be located in Huai’an city. Foxconn Technology Group, a top maker of products for Apple, announced [April 2012] that it will build a high-tech manufacturing base in Hainan, China’s southernmost island.

The working conditions at FoxConn have been said to have improved:

Working conditions have improved at plants owned by Foxconn, a Taiwan-based electronics giant and Apple Inc’s biggest supplier, according to a report released on Tuesday. The Fair Labor Association, a United States-based nonprofit organization, said that Foxconn, a Taiwan-based electronics giant and Apple Inc’s biggest supplier, has completed the actions it agreed to take to improve working conditions at its two plants in Shenzhen and one plant in Chengdu, which make Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad products.

Sunday 7th October 2012

There is growing interest internationally in the Foxconn situation. China Daily commented as follows:

A major supplier for tech giant Apple on Saturday denied reports that thousands of workers making components for the iPhone 5 went on strike at the company’s plant in Zhengzhou, Henan province.

The strike was said to have started at 1 pm Friday [5th October 2012] and continued to 11 pm, involving workers mainly from assembly lines and quality-control inspectors.

“Foxconn raised overly-strict demands on product quality without providing worker training for the corresponding skills. This led to workers turning out products that did not meet standards, and ultimately put a tremendous amount of pressure on workers,” China Labor Watch said in a statement.

October 12th 2012

A new story is developing which suggests harsh treatment of an employee after a near-fatal accident.

October 18th 2012

Latest allegation in Western media is of Foxconn using underage students to work in one of their factories.

November 26th 2012

Foxconn has begun its scheme to replace workers with robots which have been called Foxbotts. Scheme was announced in 2011

March 8th 2013

Major report claims Foxconn factories are ‘Labour camps’

April 2nd 2013

Foxconn profits jump aided by manufacture of Apple components. However, The adverse publicity continues with a denied report about a further suicide attempt as a Foxconn factory.

May 21st 2013

Apple leaders including Tim Cook defend the Corporation’s tax arrangements to a Senate Sub-Committee.

October 5th 2013

Two years after the death of Steve Jobs, leaders present and departed at Apple are compared.

February 17th 2014

Stories are emerging of Apple’s interest in diversification, specifically into acquiring electric car business Tesla. ‘Clean green’ image may appeal to Apple as brand strengthening. Foxconn also indicates wish to diversify away from intensive factory manufacturing with a Billion dollar investment into Indonesia for more automated manufacturing processes.

March 3rd 2014

Cook displays his ethical and environmental credentials and concerns Says business is ‘not just about making a profit.

April 18th 2014

Apple blunders in attempt to avoid ethical threats to its image.

May 7th 2014

Big golden hello of $67 million to new retail boss from Burberry.

June 20th 2014

Suggestion that Cook should make CSR a priority

July 4th 2014

Apple CEO’s Cook’s statement at Investors’ meeting has become a matter of debate

July 18th 2014

Apple faces charges of illegal price-fixing of e-books

September 26th 2014

Another bad news story as Leukaemia victims at Foxconn plant die but no support offered by firm.

October 6th 2014
At last: a good news story. Foxconn to build an electric car for Chinese market. $800 million investment.

October 29th 2014

Apple 6 mocked by Conan O’Brien as flaccid in parody commercial comparison with Galaxy Note 4

October 30th 2014

Apple chief Tim Cook is .. ‘Proud to be gay’.

November 1st 2014

Tim Cook has become a gay icon overnight partly through social media. Says he did not want to be ‘an activist’.

Dec 15th 2014

Anti-trust case. Apple appeals judgement against its i-pad entry into e-books market

December 18th 2014

Another worker abuse story from Pegatron, another Apple supplier

Apple ‘deeply offended’ by BBC investigation of the allegations

January 25th 2014

Tim Cook in line for $500 million stock bonus

January 28th 2015

Apple records largest profits in history: Shares in rise more than 6pc after it records biggest profits ever reported by a company, ‘equivalent to $8.3m profit every hour of the day’

February 15th 2015

Evaluation of Tim Cook’s impact as leader  two years after his appointment.

March 7th 2015

Apple’s strategy of Big Data management examined

Match 14th 2015
Apple executive slams unofficial biography of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs to donate much of his wealth to charitable stories

July 21st 2015

Quarterly Sales watch on Apple watch sales. Not good news.

October 29th 2015

Apple stock down although its financials up, as is Tim Cook’s reputation.   Investors said to be ‘spoiled’. One suggestion. It is explained by lack of evidence of iWatch potential.

January 30th 2016

activist shareholder declares Apple shares seriously under valued.  Call for buy back of shares to adjust value.

Feb 18th 2016

Apple in battle with FBI over terrorist phone information

February 29 2016

Summary of the ‘FBI v Apple’ case here from an Indian source here.

April 14th 2016

FBI Director reflects on the dispute with Apple now on its way to resolution

April 27th 2016

Apple profits and stock valuation dip.

 


Steve Jobs. Creative genius and cult leader

October 6, 2011

Obituary notes on Steve Jobs by Tudor Rickards

Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was a modern phenomenon for his creative achievements which did so much to create a global corporation, and maybe a cult of devoted followers

It is hard to find anything new to say about Steve Jobs [Image right with one of his most celebrated innovations, the i-Phone].

His life has become a story so widely shared that it has become part of a common platform of understanding.

His genius will be rightly lauded and his fame deserved. His greatest creation was the Apple corporation. I had been working on a post about Steve Jobs at the time of his death, and the following draws on my unpublished notes.

Apple as a cult

A BBC documentary [May 2011] suggested that Apple produces brain reactions in followers akin to those experienced in religious believers. It started from the interesting premise that Apple goes in for a lot of religious imagery. It was fairly easy to see the point that was being made. It also accorded with part of the Jobs story that Apple devotees can become evangelical.

Bad science

Web-comment was largely dismissive. The BBC programme had focussed on one addicted Apple user whose brain scan seems to show stimulation akin to those identified with a state of religious ecstasy. But the point being made is not entirely without merit. Much has been discovered by an imaginative leap based on observation of an exceptional medical case, or even a scientific observation.

A Jobsian cult?

One article went to town on the metaphor

A team of British neuroscientists has confirmed what IT atheists have known for years – that the brains of Jobsian cult members respond to the sight of Apple products in much the same way that religious believers respond to religious imagery. In a recent BBC documentary, Secrets of the Superbrands the neuroscientists ran an MRI scan on the brain of Alex Brooks, the editor of World of Apple, who claims that the Jobsian cult is “definitely” on his mind 24 hours a day. They discovered that photos of things like the iPhone and the iPad make certain parts of his brain all tingly.
“We see quite an amount of changes in the brain when he’s actually looking at Apple products, ” explained professor Gemma Calvert, a neuroscientist at the University of Warwick. “There’s much more activity in the visual cortex, an enhanced visual attention, if you like, to Apple products.” Much the same thing occurs, she explained, when holy imagery is shown to religious zealots.

Cultish leadership

Professor Dennis Tourish of the University of Kent has been exploring what he calls cultish leadership which appears to be an extreme manifestation of charismatic leadership . He has documented the Enron case and Scientology as manifesting cult-like properties.

Followership

Another emerging trend in leadership studies is that of followership. Here there has been renewal of an idea promoted by Ghandi who urged people to the perspective of self-development as ‘followers of self’. Ghandi remarked in this context that he was pretty bad at following his own goals and ideals. Maybe we have to look more closely at the conditions of extreme followership, be it of Steve Jobs or of the latest celebrity phenomenon.

To go more deeply

The BBC later [Oct 10th 2011] wrote more on the personality cult surrounding Steve Jobs


Will The Materialise Group spearhead the 3D printing revolution?

August 31, 2011

Materialise, A Belgian-based hi-technology firm, has become one of the pioneers of the 3D printing revolution. What are the chances of it becoming another Apple?

Wilfried Vancraen

The Materialise Group was set up in 1990 by a young engineer Wilfried Vancraen as a joint venture with the University of Leuven, Belgium. The firm still retained its headquarters in the University town. The venture aimed to develop the emerging engineering science of stereolithography.

Stereolithography

The termed was coined by an American inventor Charles W. Hull a few years earlier, defined as “a method and apparatus for making solid objects by successively “printing” thin layers of [chemically-fixed or ‘cured’] material…” It has become associated with related terms such as additive technology and 3D printing. Conceptually it may be thought of as a stereoscopic scanning of a 3 dimensional object and presenting information to “print” out a thin layer of chemicals which are fixed by UV and become the base for subsequent layers.

Materialise’s first years

Within a few years, the firm’s ideas and prototypes were winning design and innovation awards. Initial applications were for ‘demonstrator’ processes attracting attention for their potential for medical applications. By the turn of the century it had established centres around the world including the United States. More recently the organisation has been able to raise awareness of the potential for its knowhow far beyond its dental markets. The potential for art and design has been particularly recognised.

Mission and Vision

The company website states:

The company’s founders have always had one main objective: striving to develop products that add real value to a designer’s, patient’s or toolmaker’s work and life. [Our] mission is to innovate product development resulting in a better and healthier world through its software and hardware infrastructure and in-depth knowledge of additive manufacturing.

Our product developmentfocuses on making the world ‘better’ through making ‘better’ products [which save lives and make life more comfortable. This vision relies on dedicated software infrastructure and state-of-the art equipment, combined with specialized knowledge executed through the Materialise core competences. The mission statement is telling ‘what’ we are trying to achieve, our value statement is indicating ‘how’ we are going for this mission.

We strive to add value for customers, until they become fans, with a team of specialists, in an open environment that favors personal growth on a healthy financial basis.

The Company Structure

As of January 2011, the company consisted of eight Business Units in the fields of: Rapid Prototyping & Low Volume Manufacturing; Additive Manufacturing Software; fixturing, Measuring & Scanning; Biomedical R&D; Cranio-MaxilloFacial Surgery; Orthopaedics; MGX Design Lighting Accessories; and i.materialise [3D Printing Made by You]

Wilfried Vancraen

The corporate founder and CEO Wilfried Vancraen has a high profile for his technological innovations. In this respect there are echoes of Apple’s Steve Jobs.

23 May 2011 Wilfried Vancraen [CEO of Materialise] wins RTAM/SME Industry Award

Wilfried Vancraen was selected to receive this prestigious award by the RTAM/SME Industry Achievement Award Subcommittee in recognition of his exceptional contributions and accomplishments in the Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing industry.

A pioneer in his industry, Wilfried (“Fried”) Vancraen has been developing breakthroughs in the medical and industrial applications of Additive Manufacturing (AM) at Materialise for more than 20 years. Fried also pioneered several major applications in the AM sector including stereolithographic medical models, colored stereolithographic medical models, perforated support structures, RapidFit Fixtures, and automated hearing aid design.

Fried has recently undertaken the launch of the i.materialise website which allows consumers to express themselves by turning their ideas into 3D reality. The website empowers consumers to create designs that enrich their lives and enables them to share their sense of beauty with the people around them by adding unique touches to their environment.

The next Apple?

Materialise has not yet gained global recognition, but there are some similarities to the Apple brand in its ceaseless innovativeness, and technologically brilliant founder.

Updating Notes:

[1] Dentistry has been a fertile profession for innovation. An earlier post described an alternative process from Nobel Biocare, a technical competitor.

[2] The Victoria & Albert Museum is to hold a design exhibition Industrial Revolution 2 exploring the artistic potential of 3d Printing.

[3] Further revolutionary applications are reported [April 2012] which could result in a home pharmacy from which you would ‘print a drug’.

[4] See Sky News 3D Printing Revolution Could Re-Shape World [May 25th 2012] citing 3D Additive research firm Econolyst and EPSRC research centre at Loughborough University

[5] In April 2013 the first hand gun was produced and successfully fired as a trial of 3D printing applications.
More about ‘home office factories’

LWD subscriber Dr Dina Williams contributed this BBC youtube


Apple faces a Jobless future

August 25, 2011

Tim Cook and Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, iconic leader and one of the great creative innovators of his era, leaves the company he founded and built into a global superstar

The departure of Steve Jobs as leader of Apple on medical grounds has been anticipated in and outside Apple for some time. We can anticipate even more news coverage of the iconic figure whose design genius was behind a steam of products since the time of the first Apple personal computer, launched as the Apple 2

Quirky but much loved

This was quirky but much but much loved. Even the earliest versions were revolutionary in appearance and functioning. They suggested a future for personal computing that could not be imagined in the market leading IBM product and its host of imitators trying to be as compatible as a possible at lower cost.

The Apple Mac

Then the Apple Mac came along. This was even more obviously evidence of new species emerging. They are coming from a common ancestor, but retaining a genetic capacity to visualize as well as to digitalise.

IBM and clones under threat

Apple products become a serious threat to the generic sounding PC (i.e. IBM’s products and its clones). Compatibility was more an aspiration than a reality for each set of products, and even today there are enough differences to create famous entry barriers to switching from one of the two IT tribes.

Design excellence

Apple developed a brand image of innovation and design excellence. The company succeeded in grabbing a share of the emerging mobile phone market with its i-phone and then the tablet market with the i-pad. Apple stores became cathedrals for worshippers.

And each of the innovative leaps in the company was utterly associated with the design genius of Steve Jobs. Stock levels were seen to shift according to reports on his deteriorating health.

Symbolic leadership

This is one of the clearest example of symbolic leadership to be found in modern times. Steve Jobs was Apple. The closest parallel I can think of is that of Walt Disney. Incidentally, you can find fascinating comparisons of the two companies in the book Disney Wars.

All is not gloom and doom

There are naturally signs of bereavement at present at Apple. But all is not gloom and doom. Apple has had a strong internal candidate waiting to step up. The evidence is that the company has faced the realities of succession. Tim Cook is already highly regarded internally for his operational and organizational talents. He was appointed in what seemed like one last symbolic act after his strong endorsement by Steve Jobs in his letter of resignation. We will learn much more of Mr Cook in the coming months. Will Apple now enter a post-charismatic era in its public image?


Not a good week for leaders

February 25, 2011

Earthquake damage to Christchurch Cathedral
The news has been full of leadership stories this week. But they have been not so much about heroic figures, as leaders struggling to deal with crises from Libya to London, from Wall Street to Washington. For personal heroism we have to go to rescuers after the earthquake in Christchurch Canterbury, New Zealand

The start of February 2011 has produced global shocks politically, and in their wake economically. The headlines have been reserved for events in the middle east, when attention shifted from Egypt to neighbouring Libya where Colonel Gadhafi has appeared weakened. Events there appear more like an old-fashioned and bloody insurrection than the new-media supported challenges to regimes in Tunisia and Egypt last month.

What appears to be in common to these events is the weakening or termination of authority of a long-standing ruler, charged with being out of touch with the democratic rights of their people.

Efforts to maintain a ‘strong man’ position have tended to be followed by concessionary offers of reform, which have encouraged further efforts to depose the regimes.

Drugged by al Qaeda

Moammar Gadhafi at present has refused to take such a conciliatory stance. In a telephoned speech [24 Feb 2011] to Libyan state television he put the blame for the uprising sweeping Libya on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, saying that terrorist group had been drugging Libyans and thus inducing them to revolt. Western commentators remain unconvinced.

Shockwaves

Shockwaves from the region have troubled other leaders. Prime Minister David Cameron and his Foreign Secretary William Hague have been under pressure for acting too slowly to support repatriation of British citizens. President Obama continues to take political hits as he struggles to avoid accusations of America being too enthusiastic in favour of military intervention. Stock market speculation was evident in light of uncertainties over oil supplies and prices.

And at Apple

One of the sad leadership tales of the week was at Apple. Shareholders are increasing demands for the company to reveal a succession plan for the iconic Steve Jobs, whose medical condition is seen to be a serious threat to the company’s future prospects. Unlike most political leaders, Jobs’ contributions have been visible, immense, and widely acclaimed.

A real crisis

Events even in Libya have had less human consequences than were produced in the earthquake which has devastated the city of Canterbury, New Zealand this week. There, the response has had less to do with top-down leadership than with community response and personal heroism.

Image

Christchurch Cathedral and the effects of the Earthquake [23rd Feb 2011]. Image from australiangeographic.