The world has been celebrating the life of Steve Jobs. At the same time, a story popped up in Harvard Business Review that’s worth thinking about in the context of Mr. Jobs. It’s about the myth of innovation.
The point of the article is that we celebrate great innovators such as Jobs and Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton; all great discoverers, inventors and innovators. And, generally, we believe in that ah-hah moment of the innovator.
Lou Gerstner resurrected IBM with no previous knowledge of IBM’s business. He proved that a lack of company, even category, experience can be overcome. Gerstner was the exception.
A CEO with the full body of knowledge about a company and its category has a huge leg up. CEOs who grow up in a company know the pressure points at every level. They know where each job fits in the total scheme. They know the industry. And that means they know the competition.