Project Vision: The “Apple” Never Falls Far from the Tree

25 August 2011

With yesterday’s announcement of Steve Jobs stepping down as Apple’s CEO, the first thought that crossed my mind is the critical role leadership plays in any organization.  As the story goes… after building Apple into an industry giant, Jobs was ousted as its leader in 1985.  Following his departure, the company slowly deteriorated and by 1997 the company Jobs’ built was running at a loss of $1 billion on its $7 billion in revenue.  Almost 15 years later, under Jobs’ leadership Apple has not only transformed its own DNA, but has revolutionized the music industry, the smart phone and the tablet PC, making it a technology leader and powerhouse aimed to generate $100 Billion in revenue (with billions in profit) by fiscal year end.   Steve Jobs’ can be categorized as a true visionary.  What he has brought to the world of business and technology goes beyond his creative brilliance and obsessive attention to detail.  He has demonstrated that a true visionary knows how to take an idea align it with the current market conditions and inspire the great people around him or her to deliver the “Goods.”

Although Apple’s slogan “Think different.” may provide insight into Steve Jobs’ out-of-the box thinking and vision that has catapulted the success of products such as the iPhone and the iPad, it is important to recognize that more than anything his leadership is was what is ultimately responsible for Apple’s visionary success.  Similarly in the project management world, project vision plays the same role transforming project managers into project leaders.  Where a project manager is typically focused on the mechanics of ensuring a project is delivered on time, within budget and according to specifications, a project leader goes beyond the logistics and effectively communicates his or her sponsor’s vision and inspires his or her team by effectively communicating the “Big Picture.”  Project leadership has a lot more to do with interpersonal relations and collaboration among project stakeholders than the managing of project activities and their associated costs.

In fact, a project management practitioner’s ability to effectively demonstrate leadership is probably the most telling sign of his or her ability to deliver superior results to project stakeholders.  As Steve Jobs has already proven to the world – “The apple never falls far from the tree.”

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