Real Leaders Don’t Apologize for Innovation


English: Apple iPad EventTim Cook has been praised for apologizing for Apple’s crappy new map program. Somewhere, Steve Jobs is rolling over in his grave.

Apple had moxie, discipline and a heart. They knew who they were: they were first and new, even when they weren’t actually first and new.

And Steve Jobs took our money and seemed to say, “What I am giving you isn’t worthy of you. You probably can’t appreciate it. One day, you will thank me for this amazing gift by increasing Apple’s revenue, profit margins and shareholder value.”

Who doesn’t miss that guy?

Steve Jobs didn’t let hack journalists judge his art. He alone was the arbiter of good and bad. And he didn’t apologize for innovation because he knew that first and new were better than being safe and perfect. He never promised us perfection. He promised us brazen and imperfect genius. And he delivered it.

But now you have Tim Cook apologizing for a flawed map program — of all things — and I find myself wondering why Cook is letting someone else own the message and the news cycle.

Fear? Bad PR advice? Heavy-handed pressure from the board?

It’s nice to see Tim Cook show some humility and recommend Bing as an alternative map provider; however, Apple desperately needs a CEO who can be the story in order to tell the story. Think of Steve Ballmer and Richard Branson. When you have a leader that people love OR hate OR simply recognize, they forgive your mistakes because they are waiting for what’s next.

Instead, Apple has a Silicon Valley version of James Dyson: he’s calm, sensible and sends you email messages telling you that he just wants things to work properly. Actually, no, that’s a mischaracterization of James Dyson. You can go to Sears and get a Kenmore if you want things to work properly. You can get a Dyson if you want innovation.

Tim Cook isn’t even as ostentatious or bold as James Dyson. Fabulous.

My bottom line? When I buy an Apple product, I want what’s next — flawed or not. I know that I am buying an imperfect but amazing device that can be fixed by patches in later versions of the product because I’ve been educated by the company about product development and evolution.

If Steve Jobs were around, he would say — Yeah, the maps aren’t perfect and I’m not happy but it’s a motherf@#%ng iPhone5. Show some appreciation.

And we would because Steve Jobs loved us.

Real leaders don’t apologize for innovation. They make you comfortable with imperfection. They get you hungry for the ugly and the messy of what’s next.

I am no longer hungry for what’s next with Apple.

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