Apple University: Another Steve Jobs Legacy

The technology world, and certainly the gadget news world, stood still this week as news spread instantly across the web that Steve Jobs had passed away – and today we learn that his legacy will live on – through education. And not just through the products he literally helped invent, ranging from the personal computer to the iPhone, through a school that'll include a training program where company executives present and future will learn how to think and act like their former leader. In "a forum to impart that DNA to future generations", a project will ensure the future of Apple, this effort reportedly lead by former dean of Yale's Business School, Joel Podolny.

According to the L.A. Times, those familiar with the project say that Jobs himself recruited Podolny for this project, and that there's been a plan in place for this project for some time. When asked about the project by the Times, analyst Tim Bajarin noted the following:

"One of the things that Steve Jobs understood very well is that Apple is like no other company on the planet. It became pretty clear that Apple needed a set of educational materials so that Apple employees could learn to think and make decisions as if they were Steve Jobs." – T.Bajarin

Apparently this project formally started in 2008, when Podolny was recruited, his job at the time (and since, we must assume,) being to help Apple analyze and internalize the way Jobs thought, acted, and lived to prepare for his eventual passing from this mortal plane. According to sources speaking with the Times, Jobs drew inspiration for the project from Bill Hewlett and David Packard who famously set core values for the company in "The HP Way". Jobs reportedly had a list of tenets that sat at the core of Apple's success: accountability, attention to detail, perfectionism, simplicity, and secrecy.

Back in 1996, after Pixar had created Toy Story but before Jobs had been invited back to work with Apple once more, he had a bit to say about the company that turned out to be right there at the core, once more, of the future success of the company. Take a peek at the interview with PBS' Wall $treet Week with Louis Rukeyser here:

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via Jobs foretells Apple's Future in 1996 Interview

At the moment, it still appears as though plans for the circular "spaceship" campus in Cupertino are set to move forward, with completion of the project set for sometime inside 2015. You can see floor plans for that campus as well as the town hall meeting in Cupertino where Jobs initially laid out plans.

Observers of Podolny, such as Yale business professor Doug Rae, saw their former colleague rise to prominence extremely quickly, only to leave just as fast:

"I remember scratching my head and thinking, 'This guy is not going to last at this rate.' Sure enough, he left sooner than we had hoped," – Rae

Podolny was credited with helping applications to the school rise 50% during his 3½-year tenure, while his top scholar recruits increased the size of the faculty by 20%, and those around him at the time said he responded to every email he got, "frequently by 4:30 a.m.. It was all of this, of course, that caught Jobs' eye. Observers said that Podolny "fell under Jobs' spell" and that he "decided to leave Yale for the chance to work with a modern-day Thomas Edison."

As if to solidify the importance of the project, Podolny wrote to his students as a final farewell in 2008: "While there are many great companies, I cannot think of one that has had as tremendous personal meaning for me as Apple."

We look forward to the progression of this project and certainly support the ongoing execution of plans left by Jobs for the future of technology.

[via LA Times]