The succession question at Apple has always been a trillion-dollar one, and markets have been on tenterhooks every time there was a new revelation -- truth or rumor -- about CEO Steve Jobs' health status. And yet, there is no conclusive word on it even after Jobs entered another long-term medical leave earlier this year.
Now, there is somewhat conclusive evidence that the company is really looking up at the prospect of life without its iconic visionary leader. A Fortune magazine article written by Adam Lashinsky, excerpts of which have been published in various newspapers, says the company is offering training to staff about the post-Jobs phase in its life and that senior academics have been hired to prepare case studies to educate the employees.
The feature on Apple's -- and Jobs' -- intricate working style says the high-profile academics hired by the Apple University had a role in educating the employees about the post-Jobs phase. If the report is true, this would mean that the company is really working on the succession plan behind the scenes.
Steve Jobs hired dean of Yale School of Management Joel Podolny to run the Apple University, an internal group also featuring business professors and Harvard veterans that are writing a series of case studies to prepare employees for the life at Apple after Jobs, says Lashinsky's article. These case studies focus on Apple’s recent business decisions and internal culture, they are exclusive to employees and taught by top executives like Tim Cook and Ron Johnson.
The signals from Apple about the CEO succession plan have always been contradictory. In January this year, a few days after Apple recommended its shareholders to vote against the demand for a CEO succession plan at the annual meeting of shareholders, Jobs announced that he was going on a medical leave.
Apple had tried to convince the shareholders that the demand for a succession plan would jeopardize its competitive advantage. It further stated that the proposal would undermine the Company's efforts to recruit and retain executives.
The company, which has always banked on its enigmatic leader for its stupendous run of successes, was badly shaken by Jobs' health concerns that started with him being was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2003.