06 Oct 2011

Harvard Business School Faculty Remember Steve Jobs


BOSTON—News of the tragic death yesterday of Steve Jobs reverberated around the world. And the Harvard Business School campus was no exception. Everyone felt a keen sense of loss for a man who was an iconic figure in the worlds of technology, entrepreneurship, innovation, and design. A number of faculty members gave their views on a legendary life and career.

Bharat Anand (Strategy)
It is hard to imagine anyone who had a bigger impact on technology, media, and culture than Steve Jobs. In doing so, he transcended business to become a public figure.

Rohit Deshpande (Marketing)
Steve Jobs's genius was knowing how to create culture. His work at Apple transcended business to marketing iconic products that consumers imbued with human attributes. iPod, iPhone, and iPad are more than technology. They are objects of desire. Jobs's legacy is a brand that will live on because he connected it to consumer emotions.

Bruce Harreld (Entrepreneurial Management)
I met Steve Jobs many times over twenty years, and one word always comes to mind--passion. Steve was always passionate about everything he did. No detail was too small to escape his passion for what he called "taste." His sense of taste positively shaped our lives. He will be sorely missed.

Regina Herzlinger (General Management)
The life of Steve Jobs is like a biblical saga. A mighty prophet emerges, visionary and charismatic, but he is imperfect. He deserts early allies (Steve Wozniak) and has other troubled relationships. He is widely spurned because he is so harsh and demanding. He is in turn betrayed by his closest ally (John Sculley), but ultimately the clarity of his vision and charisma triumph, and he transforms the world. The transformation in communications he creates gives ordinary people the voice to topple mighty businesses and governments. Would you expect any less from a mighty prophet?

Robert Higgins (Entrepreneurial Management)
Steve Jobs will be remembered as the Great Innovator of our age. It is no wonder that he chose Walter Isaacson, biographer of Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein, to tell his story. Jobs is another star in that constellation.

William Kirby (General Management):
Steve Jobs's legacy is everywhere, not the least in Chinese cities where the Apple stores are crowded from dawn to dusk, and where there are not only knock-off phones on the street but also beautiful knock-off stores across the land. Emulation is the highest compliment.

Vineet Kumar (Marketing)
Steve Jobs may be best remembered for creating products and user experiences that consumers actively craved, not just tolerated. Business has an important role and responsibility in creating value for consumers, and by extension, for society. At this broader level, Jobs's leadership was the clearest demonstration that creating value for consumers, shareholders, and society does not have to be a zero-sum game. Apple's products may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about quality-of-life and how it can be measured and improved, but they have certainly improved the daily experience of billions of consumers when they interact with technology. Although an aspect that's hard to quantify, that to me is the reason Steve Jobs ought to be considered among the greatest business leaders of all time.

Janet Kraus (Entrepreneurial Management)
Steve Jobs said he wanted to "make a dent in the universe." A force of nature, he was more supernova than asteroid. Jobs made more than a dent in the universe; he forever transformed the universe by atomically changing how we communicate, interact, imagine, discover, consider, create, and enjoy.

Rajiv Lal (Marketing)
In Steve Jobs, we have lost a visionary who forever changed the way we communicate, interact, and live our lives. The magnitude of this impact is evident from the fact that Apple is now the most valued company by market capitalization. All this achieved by one man in one lifetime! It is truly a legacy for the ages.

Michael Porter (Strategy)
Steve Jobs stands out as the business leader of his generation who best understood innovation, differentiation, strategic positioning, and how to change the structure of industries. What's especially remarkable is that he did this not once but several times in industries that touch many peoples' lives.

Meg Rithmire (Business, Government & the International Economy)
The passing of Steve Jobs has been met with great sadness and reflection in China, where many are already calling the iPhone 4S the "iPhone 4 Steve." In China, where especially the younger generation is looking to technology and business to transform lives, Jobs symbolized innovation and leadership in both.

Noam Wasserman (Entrepreneurial Management)
Steve Jobs was probably the most complicated company founder I have ever studied. He had an extremely complex personality, yet his products were paragons of clarity, simplicity, and elegance. He suffered a very public failure in the 1980s, when he was fired at the company he had cofounded, yet he made one of the greatest recoveries ever. He had a single-minded focus, yet he was able to learn and radically evolve after his failures. In short, his career was a glaring cautionary tale, but he was also a tremendous role model for the next generation of founders. In the end, Jobs did indeed leave the large "dent in the universe" to which he aspired, one that was at least as big as that left by any other founder of his generation. We will be much the poorer for having lost him too soon.

David Yoffie (Strategy)
Steve Jobs was a revolutionary in all senses of the word. Through his charisma, his brilliance, his leadership, and even his abrasiveness, he transformed three industries--computing, music, cellular telephony, and computing a second time with the iPad. He was one of a kind.

Read more about Steve Jobs's Life and Legacy from Professors William George, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, and Nancy Koehn.

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.