Steve Jobs to Take Over at GM

February 23, 2009

gm_chrys_fordIt looks like there is a different reason for Steve Jobs’ leave of absence from Apple than was first reported, a spot at the head of the American Auto Industry.  Not really, but that is the suggestion that a recent open letter to the President brought up.

Posted on TechCrunch, the letter written by Todd Dagres suggests that the one thing that the auto industry needs, along with this bailout, is an innovative leader with the ability to think outside the box.  Someone we should use as a model, Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs has the ability to see the big picture, outside what is being offered to the public.  He has always done right by his employees, his shareholders, and most importantly, his customers.  His innovative spirit has made the companies he leads forward looking, creative, and successful.  And the truth is, we need to be describing the auto industry in the same way.

Here is a short piece from the letter:

“It is time for us to put tax payer money behind an executive capable of transforming the automotive industry. I respectfully submit that neither the current leadership behind these companies nor government officials are the answer. We need entrepreneurs, consumer product savants and creative managers capable of effecting change. We need great leaders who can transform cars into computers rather than horse-less carriages.”

I tend to agree with the thoughts presented in the letter, and as someone who spoke out against the idea of bailing out failed companies, would see this type of solution as a positive step.  We do need to rethink the auto industry, as failed practices continue to hurt the market and foreign car companies continue to outpace us.  Technology has offered solutions that have previously been only figments of our imagination.  From fuel to design, from function to form, things need to change fast to bring these companies back to the head of the field. And who better to lead a technology innovation than a tech genius like Jobs, or anyone else at the cutting edge of technology and Silicon Valley.

I recommend giving the letter a read.  For the full text, click here.  Tell me what you think in the comments area below.  Thank you for the suggestions Mr. Dagres.

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When you Fake Innovation…

February 10, 2009

6a00d83451d69069e200e5517221008833-800wiWhen you fake innovation, you let everyone down.  For whatever it is worth, an enterprise must decide for themselves what they want to be.  And then once that decision is made, build yourself around it.  That means hiring and firing the right people, changing the way you communicate both internally and externally, and executing.  If you are okay being an average organization that does not take big risks and rides on the coattails of success, that’s fine.  Just don’t fake it.

Major League Baseball is faking it. They were looking for mass appeal, so they turned a blind eye to rampant abuse of performance enhancing drugs for a long time.  When they finally decided to deal with it, it wasn’t an internal decision.  Their hand was forced by the media and other external factors.  But even at that point, they had the chance to turn things around.

They tested and “perfected” a new random drug testing policy that was actually quite lenient, much more so than other professional sports.  They revised it many times, made it more strict, publicized it, and executed it.  Their message all along was that they were cleaning up baseball, making it great again.  At least that was their message to us, the fans and media.

Internally, no one got fired for failing to do their jobs.  And an investigation that should have been quick and to the point, is still ongoing.  Then, when most of the dust had settled, and fans of the game finally felt like things were back to normal…A-Rod.  Curt Schilling I think says what I mean best in his blog post.  Why is A-Rod left out to dry?  Who leaked this information?  Why are some names still not released to the public?

This is not a blog about Major League Baseball.  But from this example, it is clear that an organization (your company?) must have a clear vision for what they are trying to do.  And now, more than ever before, you must communicate and execute on that vision in the public eye. You can’t get by with telling one story and doing something else, you’ll get called out on it.  The negative PR from “lying” about your goals, your vision, your ideals and your strategy is too much to handle in a connected world.

You have to be the real thing.  People will acknowledge you for it, respect you for it, and thank you for it (success!!).  What do you think?

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2 Emails Worth Mentioning

November 20, 2008

In the past week I have received two emails that I feel are worthy of a mention on a blog about Innovation. Both were from people I do not know, have never met, have never talked with online, and most likely will never talk with in my lifetime.

The first was from Steve Gentile at Think Tank NYC, and he probably had no idea that he was emailing me. You see, Steve decided to leave a social networking group that we were both a part of called Sta.rtUp.Biz. In deciding to leave, Steve emailed all the members of the website explaining his reasons for leaving, and also saying that he is interested in communicating with any of us who would still like to remain in contact with him.

This email stands out for two reasons. The first, is a direct shot at Sta.rtUp.Biz. We are in a world where everything you do can and will be used against you, online. And word travels fast. When you market yourself as a social networking site for entrepreneurs, where we can enjoy the freedom of idea creation, open discussion, and useful information to start our business, you better follow through with that. Now I don’t know if it was the creators or the members who transformed this site into what it is now, but Steve is blaming the creators. “A fool’s game of mindless invitations and posts delivered with the purpose of point building without substance, and not networking or provoking deeper thoughts”, is how he described it in the email. That got my attention, and I am sure many others’, and will hurt the website’s credibility.

Two, this is a semi-ingenious move on Steve’s part to get some attention. As an entrepreneur, what better way to promote without promoting. Take something you are going to do anyway and send an email about it that gets in the heads of people that you may want to work with. I don’t know Steve, but I emailed him with interest after receiving that blast.

The second was from John Podesta. John is the co-Chair of the Obama/Biden Transition Team, and apparently the one in charge of sending out the emails (or at least the name that someone else puts on their emails). I got this email because I had signed up at the new website of the Obama Administration, Change.gov. I encourage all those who have never seen it to check it out. It is still quite bare right now, but very promising.

It is interesting to think about a presidency that will be more in touch with the people. Even if this is all an act, which I don’t think that it is, it’s still a strong step. A president who devotes time to including people and getting involved in online communication, what a concept. Well, we already saw how well they used this sort of internet grassroots promotion in the campaign, now we get to see if they follow through with it during the next 4-8 years.

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