Can Apple’s “Genius” Be Cultivated Far From The Tree?

Messianic tendencies are seldom healthy, but they can be doubly destructive in business where a misstep, missed trend or messy product launch can turn last year‘s wunderkind into this year‘s washout. So it‘s interesting to consider why Silicon Valley (along with much of the rest of IT) is so fixated on rock star executives. If you think an industry that prides itself on innovation would be immune to self-indulgent behavioral clichés, you‘d be wrong.

Such execs tend to run into problems garnering adulation or enthusiasm beyond their home turf. Ron Johnson, the now-former CEO of stalwart JC Penny is a painful case in point. Considered a retail genius for his pioneering work at Target (where he launched the Michael Graves product line) and Apple (where he helped conceive and then managed the company‘s Apple Store org), Johnson was hired in November 2011 to inject some badly-needed, highly-caffeinated mojo into Penny‘s stodgy, somnolent brand.

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NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT Review.


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