Near the end of October Apple announced that it would be letting go of two Senior Vice Presidents, SVP of iOS software Scott Forstall and SVP of retail John Browett. We already briefly discussed the actual reasons why these two SVPs were let go, but in case you missed the article, the reason why Forstall left Apple was because he refused to sign the iOS 6 Maps apology letter and clashed with other SVPs. As for Browett, his departure has to do with him making a series of mistakes and not fitting into the corporate culture.
BusinessWeek now has some more interesting tidbits of information on the recent executive shakeup over at the fruit company; specifically to do with Scott Forstall and Jony Ive.
According to those who worked with Forstall, he was the most “divisive” member of Apple’s executive team.
Supporters admire Forstall’s ability to manage massive technical complexity while pushing his team to innovate. Critics said he was overly concerned with empire building and pushing through favored features while blocking other teams’ ideas.
In essence Forstall wasn’t interested in collaboration with other teams, and didn’t care for opinions other than his own. This made him extremely hard to work with and of course caused a lot of tension between other executives.
Ive on the other hand “is known for his deliberate, careful choice of words, and for crediting members of his team while minimizing his own role in development of products.” It was noted by William Parkhurst, a former designer at Microsoft Corp., that Ive understood that design is a collaborative process. He further elaborated, “A design manager would not try to exert his influence too much, because they know the goodness that comes out of collaboration. You shouldn’t have an idea at the beginning of what a product is supposed to be.”
Both Ive and Forstall had very different opinions on design, and had two very different personalities. This created conflict between the two, so much so, that the two wouldn’t be in the same room together.
Effective as both executives are, Ive and Forstall didn’t get along, said former Apple employees. Just as Forstall didn’t go to Ive’s product-review meetings, neither did Ive attend Forstall’s, one of these people said. While that hardware- software divide has long been the norm at Apple, Cook is trying to create more collaboration with Ive’s promotion.
When Steve Jobs was CEO of Apple, he helped to alleviate this tension between Forstall and the other executives. Tim Cook on the other hand has chosen not to go this route, and decided that letting go of Forstall would be the best option for Apple in the long run. Do you agree with Cook’s decision? Drop us a line in the comments.