Rajan Bhavnani, Founder & CEO of a Tech Startup claims that the greatest strategic mistake Apple has made since Steve Jobs’ death was making Tim Cook CEO. His broader argument though, is a critique of mindset. A great COO, he argues, makes a horrible CEO.
Here’s an excerpt from his post on Quora:
"The problem is, he was COO… COO’s of big Fortune 500 companies generally don’t make for good CEO’s of high tech innovation focused companies.
It’s not their fault, the COO’s job is standardizing processes, cutting costs, improving supply chain consistency. These are deeply analytical jobs and seem to put leaders into a certain mindset that is not easily changed. It’s a mindsets focused on consolidation and risk elimination.
The CEO needs creativity and needs to have a focus that seeks out strategic opportunities for growth and expansion, and they need to engage in intelligent risk taking sometimes by being willing to invest in risky development projects that fizzle out into nothing.
Because for every iPhone, there were probably dozens of terrible ideas that were supported until they died, that failed as products, that had to be redirected until they were unrecognizable, etc.
I like Tim; he helped Apple do things that needed to get done. He fixed their terrible supply chain. He even implemented smart and automated cost saving measures. Every “Steve Jobs” needs a COO like Tim Cook to help them really get things done; to balance their creative chaos. Unfortunately, when you have a COO in charge it squashes the “Steve Jobs” types…
Good COO’s need someone like that who can push them… It seems like Tim doesn’t have a person who can do that for him."
Do you agree that a COO and a CEO require different mindsets?
Do you think, as Rajan apparently does, that once a leader reaches a certain experience level, that she or he cannot change his mode of thinking?