Did Steve Jobs' Death Shine a Light on the Supply Chain?
When Tim Cook was chosen to succeed the iconic Steve Jobs in August of last year, the appointment was a not-so-subtle recognition of Apple’s strongest feature as a corporate entity: a supply chain that’s the most brilliantly devised of its kind in human history.
Even The New York Times piece that frankly acknowledges the operation’s human cost approaches breathlessness when describing its awe-inspiring fluidity, with new products passing magically quickly from the design phase to mass production – and keeping Apple ahead of the game.
It’s not just Cook. Once upon a time, those bean counters in the warehouse who kept saying we had to streamline operations didn’t end up with keys to the executive bathroom. But with the CEO of the world’s largest company a former supply chain manager – and the field itself on everybody’s lips – it’s clear that the influence of logistics officers in the highest levels of corporate power is on the rise.
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It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that Apple’s recent supply chain woes came when they did. The suicides at Apple’s Chinese Foxconn factories that The Times discussed in February happened over a year before. But only now are we getting a real movement for change – and a spotlight on the global supply chain.
No doubt many factors are at play, but the timing is suspicious enough to give media watchers pause. When the leading architect of Apple’s peerless supply chain took over the company, there was suddenly a great deal of media interest – and poor Cook had to take questions no journalist would have ever bothered asking Jobs, whose charisma and personal history usually made for a better story.
Even the best of us have a soft spot for human interest stories, and with Cook as the new Apple plot, we may end up with a meatier tale than we did before. Real good could come of it, and that will mean something to people who need the help. But the media cycle can be cruel to the seventeen people who didn’t get it.