While the Apple camp in Cupertino is now without its most famous founder, Steve Jobs has ensured that the company will do just fine while he’s not around. For years, Steve himself had been planning one of Apple’s most secretive projects. But it wasn’t a new iPhone or a new iPad, it was Apple University — an executive training program that teaches Apple bosses to be more like Steve.
Steve considered Apple University to be vital to the company’s future, according to the LA Times, and so he brought together a team of experts that will train Apple executives to keep things ticking over smoothly. One of those experts is said to be the dean of Yale’s Business School, Joel Podolny, who Steve personally recruited to run the program back in 2008.
A former Apple executive, who asked not to be named to preserve his relationship with the company, told the LA Times:
“Steve was looking to his legacy. The idea was to take what is unique about Apple and create a forum that can impart that DNA to future generations of Apple employees. No other company has a university charged with probing so deeply into the roots of what makes the company so successful.”
Steve reportedly began work on the university by putting together a group of academics around 5 years ago, but in 2008, the project took on a greater urgency when Steve took his second leave of medical absence.
Steve identified principals which he believes are essential to maintaining Apple’s famous innovation and success, including accountability, attention to detail, perfectionism, simplicity, and secrecy. All of which have been created into “university-caliber” courses that teach Apple bosses how those principals are key to the company’s strategies and practices.
After saying goodbye to his position at Yale, Podolny moved into an office between Steve and Tim Cook. He was already fond of both Steve and Apple, and even described writing his first computer program on an Apple II. In his letter of farewell to Yale students, Podolny wrote:
“While there are many great companies, I cannot think of one that has had as tremendous personal meaning for me as Apple”.
It’s fascinating the think that in the years preceding Steve’s resignation from the role of CEO, he was putting together a school that would teach Apple’s executives to think more like him when he’s not around.