“I know best” is a lousy way to run a business (or a family, or a government). It broadcasts arrogance and courts disaster. It plugs into the same cult-of-the-lone-hero-artist mindset that Apple’s ad campaigns have celebrated. It reeks of Randian ressentiment and adolescent contempt for the little people.
Jobs’ approach, in Jobs’ hands, overcame this creepiness by sheer dint of taste and smarts. There isn’t anyone else in Apple’s industry or any other who is remotely likely to be able to pull it off. If what Jobs’ successors and competitors take away from all this is that “we know best” can be an acceptable business strategy, they will be in big trouble.
I think you see this in the "no excuses" CMO's too. I can believe (but don't really know) that the best KIPP schools, Amistad Academy, etc. can overcome "this creepiness by sheer dint of taste and smarts." Its the belief in replication that frightens me, because you can't scale taste and smarts.