Debunking the Myth of the One-Man Team

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Successful companies are often represented by a figurehead that embodies the values of the company and acts as a public figure. That was the case with Steve Jobs, the late former CEO of Apple, who, in the minds of the general public, became so closely associated with Apple that it seemed that perhaps he was the brain behind Apple. However, here I’d like to debunk that myth a bit, in the name of encouraging entrepreneurs to build a competent team. Steve Jobs had a very competent team of senior Vice Presidents around him that helped him create the products Apple is so famous for, and understanding their roles will help any entrepreneur understand that a business can’t be a one-man show.

Apple’s Underrated Management Team

(pictures and some information from Apple’s Bio Pages)

Tim Cook, CEO and Board Member

Before being named CEO in August 2011, Tim Cook was COO of Apple and responsible for worldwide sales and operations. Cook is credited with pulling Apple out of manufacturing by closing factories and warehouses around the world. This helped the company reduce inventory levels and streamline its supply chain, dramatically increasing profit margins. Cook also served on two different occasions as CEO in 2004 and 2009 when Steve Jobs had previous health problems. He now has the hard task of permanently replacing Steve Jobs in what may be the company’s most delicate stretch.

Eddy Cue, Senior VP, Internet Software and Services

Eddy is responsible for products and content stores such as the iTunes Store, the App Store, and the iBookstore, as well as iAd and Apple's iCloud services. He was also heavily involved in creating in creating the Apple online store in 1998, the iTunes Music Store in 2003 and the App Store in 2008 as well as the iLife suit of products.

Scott Forstall, Senior VP, iOS Software

Scott Forstall leads the team responsible for designing the innovative operating software for the highly successful iPhone, from its user interface, applications, and frameworks to the end package. Forstall was also one of the main architects behind Mac OS X and was responsible for several releases of the operating system, most notably Mac OS X Leopard. During the latest event, he introduced the iPhone 5 and a demo of Siri, the voice recognition software.

Jonathan Ive, Senior VP, Industrial Design

London born Jonathan Ive is the head of team responsible for designing Apple’s product exteriors. Well-known as one of the best in his domain, Ive and his team have given birth to cutting edge products such as the Macbook Air, iPhone 4, and iPod Nano just to name a few. Ive has won numerous design awards and many Apple products are exposed in museums such as NYC’s MOMA and the Paris Centre Pompidou. Ive is certainly one of Apple’s biggest assets currently.

Bob Mansfield, Senior VP Mac Hardware Engineering

Bob Mansfield oversees the team responsible of the Mac product line, which has delivered dozens of breakthrough Mac products including the MacBook Air and the all-in-one iMac line. Given the Mac line’s recent surge in popularity, there is no doubt Mansfield is leading his team in the right direction.

Phil Schiller, Senior VP Worldwide Product Marketing

Schiller is responsible for the company’s Product Marketing, Developer Relations, and Business Marketing programs. Schiller has helped the company return to its role as a technology innovator, delivering breakthrough products such as the iMac, MacBook, Airport, Mac OS X, Safari, AppleTV, iPod and iPhone. He frequently participates in Keynotes presenting new products.

Apple: Not a One Man Show

It’s true that Steve Jobs was a large part of the heart and soul at Apple, but as others have attested, to call it a one-man show would be completely wrong. These men above were some of Steve Job’s inner circle, men he trusted with the most important aspects of the company. It would be impossible for him to create the products he envisioned, or run a multi-billion dollar multinational, alone. By recruiting top-notch talent to manage key elements of production and development, Jobs ensured that Apple would survive no matter what.

The Apple Model as an example for aspiring entrepreneurs

Successful companies are often born from the spark of one person, or one idea that hits at the right time and becomes highly profitable. Yet as the company grows, it is necessary to bring in trustworthy people in order to scale. Creating trust between the founder and those first generation management teams is crucial, as it allows the company to flourish. Good communication will allow an exchange of knowledge and ideas to flow so that the founder’s vision can be maintained and iterated as the company develops. 

In the beginning, it may seem easier- and possible- to run your project on your own. Yet having a great team around is definitely better. If you’re not sure you can trust someone else with your product, just think about the long nights coding you will not have to spend alone anymore, if you are a tech entrepreneur. Or the mistakes you will avoid because someone fresher will spot that tiny line of code you miswrote. Think about the discussions you will have, and the new ideas that will be born from them. Or more importantly just think about the feeling of relief that in the end of it all you are not alone in your venture. You can take it from Apple- an entrepreneurial venture may begin with one person’s ideas and vision but it should never remain a one-man show.

[main photo of Manchester United star player Wayne Rooney from WhoAteAllthePies]


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