The Perils of Growth

In Becoming Steve Jobs there's a great passage about how John Lasseter of Pixar fame became attracted to the Disney/Pixar acquisition because it would eliminate pressure from Pixar shareholders for growth through TV shows and more and more products -- Pixar was a publicly traded company when it was acquired by Disney. Disney could protect Pixar from this phenomenon, allowing Pixar to stay focused on just a few great movies at any given time. Becoming Steve Jobs, by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli (Random House, 2015). To me these comments are interesting because they come from the perspective of an actual product creator rather than a strategist or CEO. It seems likely that people who create really great products -- the ones who ultimately drive a company's long term success (individuals like John Lasseter and Jony Ive) -- prefer focusing on just a few things at a time. They know they can't create something lasting and great if their efforts are diluted across too many projects.

A company focused on long term, sustainable growth/success needs to do everything it can to facilitate the happiness and success of great product creators like John Lasseter or, in Apple's case, Jony Ive and Apple's other great designers and engineers -- these are the people driving sustainable long term growth.

CEO's and corporate boards must learn to tune out noise from shareholders who demand short term growth at the expense of sustainable long term growth driven by truly great products. Company leaders must create an environment where their best product creators can focus and thrive.

When a company focuses on the long term it gives itself more time to develop lots of great leaders and creators. Careful, patient organizational development allows a company to drive sustainable long term growth without diluting product quality and brand value.

The author owns stock shares of Apple.