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CEOs Love Their iPads

I have done a couple workshops on “Good Boss, Bad Boss” for CEOs in the last few months, and was rather surprised to see that iPad’s seem to be the tool of choice for these folks. In June, at the session I did for CEOs, about half of them had iPads. And at the session I did this week, about 75% of them had them. I asked one CEO why he had one, and then a few more jumped in to add comments.

iPad

A couple months back, I wrote a blog post reporting I had bought an iPad and was trying to love it, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I am pretty much in the same place with the gizmo as I write this post. It sits next to the bed, and I occasionally use it to read The New York Times or do a quick Web search–but I still find it awkward for reading or watching movies as it gets heavy in my hand and the glare is bad enough that I have trouble getting it in the right position. I also wonder about its intrinsic appeal because neither my wife nor kids seem interested in borrowing it from me.

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But clearly there are many others who love the thing, and if my experience in recent months is any guide, CEOs especially love them. I have done a couple workshops on Good Boss, Bad Boss for CEOs in the last few months (for small groups, 12 or so in each case), and was rather surprised to see that iPad’s seem to be the tool of choice for these folks. In June, at the session I did for CEOs, about half of them had iPads. And at the session I did this week, about 75% of them had them. I asked one CEO why he had one, and then a a few more jumped in to add comments. They really did seem to love them. The reasons I heard included:

1. They boot faster than a PC or a mac.

2. They have much longer battery life than a PC, Mac, or iPhone–which was better for meetings, planes, and home use as they don’t have to deal with running out of power all the time.

3. They are a lot better to type emails on or read emails on than an iPhone or Blackberry.

4. Related to point 3, because the screen is bigger than a phone, you can more easily glance at emails during meetings than on a phone.

5. They are much better than a phone for surfing the Web–important during meetings as you can do it more quickly and more discreetly than on a phone.

6. They are less intrusive to use during a meeting than a laptop because you don’t have the screen up in front of you, which is borderline rude.

7. It is almost as good as laptop yet much lighter, and has a lot longer battery life to compensate.

If you take these comments as a set, one interpretation is that CEOs spend A LOT of time in meetings and on planes, and it is a better device than a phone or laptop for both settings when you balance all the competing demands.

I wonder, how do others who own iPads, or who have considered getting them, react to this apparent pattern? (The sample I have is very small, but I find their arguments in combination with the prevalence in these meetings to be suggestive and intriguing). Do any of you do work where the iPad fits in beautifully too? Or is it just for elites like CEOs? Given the millions that have been sold, they clearly are not just being bought by CEOs.

Reprinted from Work Matters

Robert I. Sutton, PhD is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. His latest book is Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Survive the Worst. His previous book is The New York Times bestseller The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. Follow him at twitter.com/work_matters.

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About the author

Robert Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford and a Professor of Organizational Behavior, by courtesy, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Sutton studies innovation, leaders and bosses, evidence-based management, the links between knowledge and organizational action, and workplace civility.

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