THE BLOG

Apple Has Lost Its Mind, Part 2: Woe Is Apple

07/22/2013 11:56 am ET | Updated Sep 17, 2013

Apple's latest ad should be the pledge of allegiance for Apple University, not an ad. It is an ode; an ode to itself.

This is it
This is what matters
The experience of a product
How will it make someone feel?
Will it make life better?
Does it deserve to exist?
We spend a lot of time on a few great things
Until every idea we touch
Enhances each life it touches
You may rarely look at it, but you'll always feel it
...This is our signature
And it means everything
Designed by Apple in California

Writing for "Fast Company," Mark Wilson says, "In 20 years we're all going to realize this Apple ad is nuts." You don't need to wait. It's obvious today.

In every way possible, Apple is screaming -- REMEMBER, WE'RE THE BEST -- just as it is quickly becoming the un-best. It's also another of many signals revealing how post-Jobs Apple has lost its mind.

The signs reveal the brains of the operation: The release of software as its next big thing. The plethora of narcissistic ads that romance people using Apple products, lamely trying to "own" them with statements like, "More people use Apple's (insert product here) than any other."

The announcement that Tim Cook's bonus is now tied to performance goals is the most blatant tip-off. What's running Apple now? The numbers.

If only holding Cook's feet to the fire could make a difference.

In a change that could be measured on the Richter scale, the brains of Apple's operation have tectonically slammed to the left. All-in-all, it's a disruption of Apple's success.

The mind of Apple once paralleled the marvel of the brain itself: human and profoundly transcendent capabilities from the right brain with the supreme organizational abilities of the left. It also had the natural order: the right brain as the leading brain; the left brain as the managing brain.

This defies current dogma that has us believing the left brain is the fully accountable executive with a laser-focus on the bottom line while the right brain is inherently valueless -- a wanderer in dreamland. It's why management has become The One True Way to run a business. It's why best practices have become The One True Way to get anything done (no matter how many times they fail).

Steve Jobs used the brain as nature intended, as the enlivened mind with both hemispheres working in organic integrity.

Jobs led Apple with the right brain. In doing so he was a rebel-in-chief. It was the secret to his Midas touch. Sadly, it was opaque to Jobs himself and doubly inscrutable to everyone trying to follow in his footsteps.

Apple's history foreshadows what's happening today.

Jobs founded Apple with his crazy-brilliant ("insanely great") right brain but lacked the order and management discipline of the left. He was ousted in favor of a seasoned executive who famously failed. When Jobs returned as savior, he brought with him a matured left brain. Having both in sync within himself let Apple become its own universe, laughably skyrocketing past companies that saw themselves as competitors. As time went on, Jobs outsourced Apple's left brain to Tim Cook who now has the woeful job of trying to fill the shoes of a giant and run in them at the same time.

Jobs also commanded from the right brain, further emulating the sequence and structure of the brain itself. He established and asserted the primacy of the right brain while keeping the left brain in its place. This revolutionary and exquisite use of the right brain's power was amped -- but never overtaken -- by the left brain's supply chains and systems that he held with a monomaniacal grip.

This basic geography of the brain's two hemispheres is scrupulously chronicled by Dr. Iain McGilchrist -- Oxford psychiatrist and scholar -- in his book The Master and His Emissary: The divided brain and the making of the Western world. http://www.iainmcgilchrist.com/
He portrays the right brain as the "master" of the brain's two hemispheres and the left brain as its "emissary" -- its deputy, its second-in-command.

The right brain processes reality, sees the big picture, authenticates in the present and curates the past. It is the seat of knowledge, intuition and wisdom. It holds the sacred intangibles: the soul of the self, the self in relation to others, belief, faith and wonder. It feels in silence.

The left brain is the reductive organizer, using its capacity for words, numbers, logic and linearity to keep order. It creates systems to generate information that is fed back to the right brain for synthesis and advancement.

The problem: physiologically, the left brain has anatomical peculiarities that make it want to be a "mind of its own." Given the opportunity, it shuns the role of lackey, seizing control, "thinking" it is fully capable of running a world it defines, asserting supremacy and false authority. It is a delusion.

Steve Jobs' absence has given the left brain the foothold it craves, making it the adversary of the right. Putting Tim Cook on notice with a bonus that's tied to performance goals -- the numbers Wall Street demands -- shows that left-brain "hawks" have flushed out the right-brain "doves."

The ad reveals Apple's new best practices are now just like any other company's: find "differentiators" then put them into words. So, the new ad virtually shouts FEELINGS ARE APPLE'S ONE TRUE WAY. Lush photography, poetic copy, twinkling music and a gravitas-filled voice-over are just a front for words.

It is beautiful. It is grandiose. It is devoid of Apple's once-inherent authenticity. It is the left brain pimping out the right.

In his "Fast Company" piece, Mark Wilson makes a bigger point than he knows when he says, "Design is at its heart a service for humanity." Humanity is the quintessence of the right brain, and design is an execution -- a delivery system -- on behalf of a human experience. It is the left brain in service to the right...as it should be.

Apple captured us with design that embodied feelings -- stirrings in the silent right brain. It captivated us with images -- silent advertising. Like a conjurer, the Apple experience inexplicably enhanced the human experience, never reducing it to words.

Now Apple uses words like "product" and says "our signature...means everything." It is a boast that is an affront to its heritage.

It is also a bluff.

This ode overturns Apple's original, unspoken premise. Its contrived poetry celebrates Apple's past as if it's the path to the future. Woe is Apple.

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