Are you reading this on your phone? Which phone? It doesn’t matter. If you’re holding a modern day smartphone that has an open faced, capacitive touch flat or curved screen, whether it’s running iOS, Android or something in between, as long as it has Apps, Rubber band scrolling, Pinch and Zoom gestures… Whether it’s an iPhone, a Samsung phone, Google, and every other phone up to Huawei and more… this is the guy you owe that amazing User Interface you have now.


The guy who led the team that successfully lived up to the challenge from Steve who said, let’s use Mac OS and shrink it, let’s make it fit on the palm of your hand. When 90% of the engineers at the time said, it was impossible, that it couldn’t be done, this guy led his team and found a way.

To be fair, there were touchscreens in existence before this time, but some of you may not remember how clunky, obtrusive and what a burden they were to use. Under Steve’s vision, this guy led his team and broke all the expectations that gave you that joyful experience that today has extended to tablets, laptop hybrids and pretty much any touchscreen UI you can think of. His and his team’s digital fingerprints are all in there somewhere. Who is he?


He is Scott Forstall.

Some of you may know who he is, some of you may not and you’re probably asking, why have I not heard of him? Or more importantly, how come he’s not with Apple anymore?

Some of you may or may not know that he was actually one of Steve’s protégés (the other one being Jony Ive, a story for another day 🙂 ) Some even call him the “Mini-Steve Jobs because they have a lot of similarities. One of which is an unyielding and almost bullish way about what he wants to do and when, the refusal to work harmoniously with anyone that he disagrees with and a very unapologetic nature about him when he makes mistakes. Not unlike Steve in many respects but what he failed to do is Adapt. After Steve’s passing, the company culture shifted somewhat under Tim Cook’s leadership. The mess they encountered late 2013 launching Apple Maps, where he was directly responsible but refused to take responsibility for (by signing Apple’s public apology letter) further pushed Tim Cook to let him go.


How can such an influential and extremely talented individual experience such a setback? The answer is simple in my opinion, it’s because he refused to adapt to the new environment. And when there is a disconnect between the environment versus the individual, for better or worse the environment wins.

The lessons I’d like to leave here are simple:

  1. Leave a legacy as groundbreaking as Scott Forstall’s and your place in history is set.
  2. To be continuously successful, you have to adapt, and adapt quickly to your environment.

In our Super Awesome Leadership Summit in that same year (2013), our guest speaker remarked;
A Roadmap is only useful if the terrain doesn’t change. You also need a compass.”
And Adaptability is a central cog (there are others) in that compass and is exactly why Adaptability is crucial. How often does the landscape stay the same? Not very often.

I have shared before that adapting is very different from compromise (for those of you who are self-righteous) You can change your methods, without changing your values. And as long as you’re clear about what you want to achieve, the methods are changeable. It is the outcome that is important.


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