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What explains the success of Apple? And can it continue?

October 1, 2017

How do you explain great human achievements, things that are achieved against all odds? Jung’s theory of the personality provides us with a mental model not only for solving problems, but for great human achievements.  

 

In my work with individuals and teams I discovered a pattern that I call “the power of polarities.” This power has the capability to either destroy or energize the whole. It can drive individuals, teams, and organizations to either underperform or attain unusually high levels of performance.

 

Great achievements are always grounded in the ability to use the Power of Polarities and cover all the bases of the personality. A simple exercise using the Apple company as an example can demonstrate this (bear in mind, the same principles apply to individuals and teams).

 

Did Apple cover all the bases of the personality and use the power of polarities? The simple framework of the four temperaments can help us answer this question.

 

 

 

TEAL Temperament - Technician

Are Apple’s products technically sound? Against the trend in the computer industry, Apple developed its hardware and software together for the sole reason of being able to make technically sound products. Their products have outperformed competitor’s products in terms of both technical benchmarks and product lifetimes.

 

TERRACOTTA Temperament - Helper

This temperament is about helping people with their practical needs. Apple products have provided humankind with some life-changing practical tools. Just take the iPod as an example. From a CD-player with 12 songs to a thousand songs on a device the size of a deck of cards that fits in your pocket. The iPhone was a touchscreen iPod with a phone and email and internet in one. There had not been a device that could integrate all of these in one. And another thing the SF temperament likes are beauty of design. His collaboration with Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief designer, provided Apple with that. Design apparently has such a high priority at Apple, that engineering has to report to design, and not the other way around.

 

ORANGE Temperament - Visionary

The vision of the young Steve Jobs was to create technology to expand the human mind. See the video below.

 

So he set out to create technology that would be like a bicycle for the mind.

 

TURQUOISE Temperament - Inventor

Apple has thrived on innovation. From the first personal computer with a screen and a keyboard (1976) to the MacIntosh (1984), the iPod (2001), iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010). And in the process, they reinvented the music industry. We have gotten so used to these products that we have forgotten that many thought they would fail. Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft said about the iPhone, “There is no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” A sign of true innovation is that it is at first met skepticism but succeeds despite it.

 

In every one of these four arenas’, Apple has outperformed the market to become the company with the highest stock exchange value. Steve Jobs intuitively knew how to do this. At the same time, he was a man with many limitations. The Red Feeling function was his inferior function and it caused quite some havoc in his personal life and in his relationships with his colleagues. But this he got right. In his second term at Apple, he also figured out how important collaboration is. It is only through collaboration that you can cover all bases of the personality. No one person can cover them on their own. In a 2003 episode of 60 Minutes he said:

 

My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That's how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they're done by a team of people.

 

 

Apple’s continued success since Steve Job’s death in 2011 will depend on its ability to continue to outperform the market in these four arenas’. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new kid on the block that will change the global economy significantly for the next decades. The question is, can Apple successfully integrate this in all four arenas’?

 

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