Apple Chairman Talks Board Influence on Product Design

Apple chairman Arthur D. Levinson spoke Tuesday afternoon at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. During the presentation, Levinson was interviewed by Stanford student Vicki Slavina.

Slavina, like many outside observers, was curious to learn just how much influence the board exerts over product design.

According to Levinson, the board doesn’t have much input at all in the product creation process, although new products are “presented to the board between 6 to 18 months prior to launch.”

If presented early enough, Levinson reveals, some board insights are considered. Board members “with expertise” in certain product areas can be more influential than others.

Ultimately, Levinson reiterates, long-term direction and planning fall under the board’s jurisdiction. “Individual product review isn’t a top priority,” he says.

“The board is not there to define product specs,” the Chairman concluded. “It’s there as a sounding board. It’s there as a resource. And ultimately, the board is there to hire and fire the CEO.”