Steve Jobs’ Answer
The Apple 2.0 Template
Here’s what I think Steve might do. On a certain level he would apply the same type of thinking he applied to Apple and Pixar. We might refer to this as the Apple 2.0 template. So what did Steve do back in 1997?
Firstly he started from scratch. He launched a totally ground-breaking “save the company” initiative called the iMac. It was a small team, it was highly secretive and he went at it much like he did with the first Mac project. What GM must really do, Steve might argue, is completely focus on building that one car that will utterly captivate the car industry and the world at large. And this car would need to be a game changer. Nothing less is worth even considering. That is what Steve did with the iMac project.
Second, Steve would want to re-establish what GM stands for and what the various brands mean. In other words, the “Think different” campaign but his time for GM and the brands it would keep. This might be the most difficult part of the entire application of the Apple 2.0 Template to GM. What the heck does GM stand for anyway?
In reviewing GM’s many brands Jobs might come to what is an obvious conclusion for many but to so few within GM itself: kill more than half the brands. And kill them today.
What Steve did with Apple in 1997 was nothing short of breathtaking. The sub-brands, the products lines and technologies he killed included things that many thought just didn’t make sense to kill. They still seemed promising. Yet he killed them or put them on ice nonetheless. He terminated, for example, the Newton MessagePad, a handheld computing platform that seemed promising at the time. He wiped out entire product lines and eliminated a mix-mash series of Mac products by boiling down all computers into his now famous four-product matrix.
What would a four product matrix look like for GM?
Heck, let’s make it easier. What would a six or eight product matrix look like for GM?
While it is totally unclear to many whether or not a government bailout of GM and the other Big Three truly makes sense for the US, what does make sense — at least to me — is that the government could certainly benefit from a Jobsian approach and understanding of the problem. So perhaps they should ask the man himself.
“Steve, what would you do to save GM…or would you?”