On Monday we saw how Steve Jobs genius is clearly an important element of Apple’s success. Recent developments elsewhere in Silicon Valley indicate that for one of their neighbors the opposite is the case: for Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s genius is highly problematic.
This means that Jobs’ genius makes landfall as an all-embracing vision – aesthetically, functionally and emotionally appealing, while the Google founders’ genius produces a system, a process, something intellectually-correct but emotionally null.
Nothing wrong with either approach of course, except for one thing: While processes scale, only visions procreate. Google can grow its search revenues to almost unimaginable amounts, but fail again and again and again and again to replicate that success in other areas.
Brin and Page are hobbled by the curse of genius – they need to be the smartest guys in the room. And you can be smart forever without once repeating your early success.
The only way to stop from falling catastrophically into The Big Rut is to fill the place with strong Visionaries and give them their head.
Say goodbye to the few true Visionaries clinging on by their fingertips – watch for a growth in the already-happening mini-exodus of maverick long-timers in the next few months – and with it any residue of true vision.
Google is about to become the organizational equivalent of prematurely arthritic: hobbled by genius.