Wednesday, Dec 16, 2020, 15:02 Events

WSJ: How Tim Cook's appointment has influenced Apple

The Wall Street Journal recently released an extensive profile of Tim Cook, covering how he has changed Apple in the last 9 years and left his own mark on the company. With the death of former CEO, Steve Jobs, in October 2011 came concerns that Apple might be standing on the edge of collapse without the guidance of the innovative company leader who had paved their way to success. After a few mishaps in the early years of the new leadership, take for example Angela Ahrendt’s appointment to Retail Chief, as well as a few long phases without product innovation, circumstances began to improve greatly. Apple has continued to be successful with the Mac, noting record quarter after record quarter and expansion into additional markets. Despite various economic crises, Apple has continued to successfully establish themselves and promote their diverse selection of products, whether in the booming service area, or with new product lines such as the Apple Watch or AirPods.

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A question to be avoided, “What would Jobs do?”
The Wall Street Journal’s profile details how Tim Cook took former CEO Steve Jobs' advice to heart in avoiding the question, “What would Jobs do?” Cook, described as a workaholic whose life revolves around Apple, has led the company differently than Jobs since his appointment. He gets up before 4 AM, studies worldwide sales numbers, holds regular meetings with the operation and finance teams, but tends not to frequent the design studios with the same regularity as Jobs. Rather than inserting himself in every aspect of the production process, Cook takes a more relaxed approach, preferring to trust in the competence of his employees than to micromanage, also perhaps the reason for which Steve Jobs once described Cook as “unproductive.”



An Obsession with Detail and an Expectation of Perfection
In spite of everything, Cook’s attention to detail cannot be denied, a trait witnessed in both Apple's economic direction and product orientation. In common with Jobs, Cook demands perfect results—viewing even the smallest errors as indication of a lacking commitment to excellence. Should you ever find yourself coming unprepared to a meeting with the new Apple CEO, chances are you’ll find yourself swiftly interrupted and dismissed. Cook detests wasting time and sees unpreparedness as the natural cause. New Apple employees are thus advised to keep their words to themselves until they’ve internalized the desired discussion process. None of this is to say, however, that Cook is known to dominate presentations like Jobs, Cook is an excellent listener during convincing presentations.

Careful Product Planning, No Adventures
When Apple’s Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering, Dan Riccio, once floated the idea of a Smart Speaker by Cook, Cook responded by peppering him with countless questions as to the exact purpose of such a product. New hardware is released very carefully under Cook, in an attempt to keep failures at an arm’s length. For this reason, the green light is only given to products that appear to have been well thought through. The lead requirement? Massive sales numbers have to be reached. In the case of the commercially unsuccessful Apple TV+, Cook’s assessment is that more effort has to be put into the service. With more than a billion active Apple devices, it’s only a matter of time until the number of subscribers increases.


Cook seen celebrating, if for none other than PR


Tim Cook, a loner?
Investing most of his time and energy into Apple leaves Cook with little time for much else, including social events and vacations. There are almost never private appointments in his calendar—something said to have been a habit of Cook even before his promotion to CEO. He also doesn’t take vacation. According to Cook, sitting alone in a hotel with “the best masseurs in the world” after a new iPhone launch is vacation enough.


Equality and encouragement are important concepts to Cook


Work Environment and Orientation
The work environment at Apple under Cook has greatly improved, something frequently reported since his appointment. Despite concerns at the start, as to whether or not Apple would still be able to release innovative products capable of withstanding the hectic market, continuing impressive sales figures have managed to assuage these concerns. Cook’s new approach towards management has also been successful in creating a friendlier work environment, one based more on appreciation than fits of rage. This new “cooksian” style of management at Apple also promotes the presentation of new ideas, with insults and scolding finding no place in the office—something in direct contrast to the “jobsian” style of management. Although there have been many changes since Cook’s appointment, one thing has remained the same: anyone wishing to work for Apple has to be willing to accept drastic limitations set upon their private life, remaining prepared to work at a moment’s notice. At the same time, Cook’s Apple has also been praised for pursuits of political correctness and engagement in public interests, be they environmental conservation or the fight against discrimination.

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