As Apple has grown — and grown and grown — some folks have said it’s gotten so big that it can’t possibly be as nimble as it once was. The late Steve Jobs ran Apple like it was a small, scrappy firm.

However, at least one person thinks Apple is still one of the three most agile companies in America. Mike Richardson, a former corporate manager and author of Wheel$pin: The Agile Executive’s Manifesto (, and his point is that it’s agility that drives a company’s ability to compete in the business world. And he says that Apple, Ford Motor and Yahoo are three of the most agile companies around. 

”The passing of Steve Jobs, while tragic, will not end Apple’s reign at the top. In his time at the company, he instilled a culture of agility that will not go away,” Richardson says. “Apple began at the dawn of the computer industry and it survived as a computer manufacturer even though its operating system was arguably mimicked by Microsoft to become the standard for PC computing. Instead, Apple set out to achieve excellence in the areas that Microsoft and other manufacturers did in a mediocre fashion.”

Then Apple carved out a niche for itself in the graphics and publishing industry, where it is still a standard. After being ousted at Apple (and forming Pixar, which revolutionized the film industry), Jobs would return to use iTunes to revolutionize the way music publishers distributed music, even as he introduced iPods to revolutionize the way we would all listen to that music. Apple then set the new standard with mobile devices with its iPhones, and finally returned to computing to revolutionize portable computers with the iPad.

“Apple never met a storm it didn’t weather nor an industry it couldn’t change,” says Richardson.

So is Apple as fleet and quick on its feet as it used to be? Almost assuredly not. But apparently it can still, to quote Muhammad Ali, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

— Dennis Sellers