Will Steve Jobs' exit get other businesses thinking?

How will Steve Jobs' health affect Apple both now and in the future? And what does it mean for businesses with iconic leadership? Paul Briden finds out...

"Apple will have to work hard to dispel that fear," Bamforth said.

"Multiple people will have to step up to the mark and work in concert. Perhaps Tim Cook, Jonathan Ive and others between them."

"Whatever they do they have to do it consistently," he added.

Bamforth acknowledged there was the potential for a power vacuum if disagreements occur between a small group of successors.

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At this stage, Bamforth suggested, Apple should be more forthcoming about succession plans in the face of dropping share prices and lowering market confidence.

"Sometimes its better to feed the information out - it doesn't have to be done as a big bang," he said.

"A feeding out into the market approach might be better for Apple and it should be sooner rather than later."

What can other companies observe and learn from the challenges currently facing Apple?

"The biggest thing they can learn is clear culture and clear direction. That can come from an individual, though it doesn't have to. But it does have to be consistent," Bamforth said.

"That sort of thing does typically come from individuals top down, but potentially it could be initiated by a small group."

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Bamforth said several companies both in the tech industry and other sectors, do well in maintaining a corporate identity and a "strong innovation culture" without tying it too tightly to a single person. Such notable organisations include search giant Google and flat-pack furniture heavyweight Ikea.

"Organisations that are most successful in the long term are those who are most adaptable," he said.

Many organisations make it their business to ensure employees are aware that no-one is indispensable. That's generally so people don't get too big for their boots, but also to make sure things can and do carry on as normal if someone leaves.

However, in Apple's case, adopting a business as usual approach while some pretty big question marks hover over the man responsible for so much of the company's character, could prove much easier said than done.

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