Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tim Cook: the "mere mortal"

Fortune devotes its cover to Tim Cook, with a portrait shaped article and taking stock. On what has begun to change or evolve from Apple. Details ... The portrait, by Adam Lashinsky, author of Inside Apple (€ 10.99) released last month, begins with the traditional story. That a meeting last February by Apple, for financial analysts and investors.

 The conference began with a presentation by 45 min of CFO Peter Oppenheimer, in a room described as decrepit as snacks and with "three stale cookies and two cans of Diet Coke." Unless the frugality of which was on the tables, what has most surprised participants, was the attitude of Tim Cook arrived after 20 min:

He sits quietly in the back of the room and he did something unusual for a CEO of Apple: He listened. He did not consult his emails once. He did not cut the floor.

Conversely, a Steve Jobs would not even bother to travel to meet this little band, preferring to delegate. A small change that shows the interest of Apple boss for this audience, and in addition to other small touches already displayed since taking office full (read How Tim Cook is making its mark on Apple) . Governance because this would also result in a series of small decisions that are then taken:

In some cases, Cook takes measures badly needed to Apple and that employees had repeatedly called. It's almost as if he went back a whole list of things to do for a long time and the previous incumbent, Jobs, refused to consider or to be made only out of stubbornness.

The article also echo some mixed reviews from former employees. An engineering manager, who left Apple in late 2011 after spending 14 years, hear from former colleagues that the meetings ever so unimportant are filled with officials responsible for planning and manufacturing. Previously, engineers were dictating their schedule and said what they needed, he says, and it was to their colleagues in charge of planning to comply. Another engineer abounds, finding that it only leads to constraints imposed on those who design products, generating misunderstandings between teams. Before too, Steve Jobs was somehow the chief negotiator for Apple, with one leader assigned also in this activity, but working in the shadow of his boss everywhere. Today, the official runs with three others, under their responsibility. A team that can lead denser simultaneously several discussions and negotiations with partners. Adam Lashinsky, for its part, is the growing proportion of MBA graduates (famous American degree of Master of Business Administration) in the workforce, a proportion that has increased markedly in the past two years.

All things that would make Apple in some ways, a sense of normalcy in between. Is it therefore must be seen as a negative development? We must remember that it is far too early to see products designed under the sole direction of Tim Cook, without the contribution of his predecessor. The last two major products were the 4S iPhone and the iPad, essentially evolutions of existing ones.

The article is then echoed the ritual meeting in mid-April of the "Top 100". They are present important frameworks from Apple, but not only. Further, the lower ranks are invited in view of their contribution to the company. Its content is always strictly secret, as are shown in future products. According echoes heard by the author, participants would be pumped out by what they were told, or shown: "People came back fully confident in the direction followed by the company," reports a witness.

Back on Cook, Lashinsky talking about a person with feet on the ground, listening to his interlocutors, without manners, attentive to details. A CEO who has lunch with some employees in a haphazard, where Jobs favored the company of Jonathan Ive. At least on behavior vis-à-vis others, it's a different picture from that which would have been painted Jobs is offered.

And although the recent mediation with Samsung apparently did not produce any effects, at least Cook, unlike Jobs, has publicly expressed a willingness to find a crisis. Apple has now found a different CEO, but that caught the great lesson, often repeated, of Jobs that he had to do little things, but, rather than dispersing in multiple mediocre products. The author concludes:

At Apple, Jobs has been revered, loved and feared. Cook is clearly a demanding boss, but not frightened. He is highly respected but not revered. While Apple is entering a new phase of its complex history, maybe she does not need a deity as CEO, but a mere mortal who knows how the work should be done.

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