Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Spring Break: Losing a Linchpin

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

The company that best exemplifies the marriage of technology and pop culture is Apple. They understand music. They like music. They like the art object. The iPod is probably the greatest pop object since the electric guitar. We – as a band – feel strongly about the iPod. We – as a band – talked about the idea for an iPod years ago. We – as a band – are fans of Apple.”
- Bono, lead singer of U2

What do think Apple’s succession plan for Steve Jobs looks like?

My daughter is a pretty good basketball player on an exceptional team. In fact, for their age group, her team was one of the best in the state. While playing in top tournament brackets this season, her basketball team won five tournaments, took second in four, and placed third in the final state tournament. A record of 33 wins and 5 losses – all the losses coming at the hands of other top-four teams. Not bad.

Just a couple weeks ago, in the final practice of the season, two days before the state tournament was to begin, my daughter broke her pinky finger on her non-shooting hand. It wasn’t a bad break. But it was a break none-the-less. And although my wife and I were tempted to simply tape up her finger and let her play, she was done for the season. She had to watch from the bench while her teammates played the state tournament without her.

My daughter is a role player, someone who clogs up the paint with her size and plays solid team defense. Her not being in the lineup was not as devastating a loss as losing another key member of the team could have been. The team could compensate without my daughter on the floor. They finished the tournament in the same position they’d likely have been had my daughter been participating.

Her broken finger made me wonder though what would have happened had one of the key ball handlers on the team gone down with an injury. The outcome of the state tournament would likely have been different.

Then I began to wonder what happens to innovation when key innovators from an organization are lost (for whatever reason - freak accidents, maternity leave, retirement, or serious illness, etc.) Stuff happens. In a world where more and more people are striving to be indispensable, how can an organization effectively protect against the unforeseen loss of such people? I’d like to know. Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Netflix, Apple, Microsoft, Budweiser, Chase, Mattel, Hasbro, General Motors, Citrix, StubHub, BestBuy, Target, Walmart, Mastercard, Visa, Disney, Motorola, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Pepsi,

1 comment:

Gelan Joes said...

Man, this is a great post. You are raising a subject most companies face all the time. It's not only about losing the top salesperson or the top cheerleader. You are talking about losing one of the persons that make a company (or a team) tick and how this could hurt (or not) everyone in the future...

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