Changes At Apple

The price of Apple stock has plunged from $702.10 per share to $604. With Apple shares dropping almost $100 per share, one needs to pay attention. Thus Tim Cook took action and fired two executives. With this event we now see the birth of the Tim Cook era at Apple.

There are some very important elements of Steven Jobs’ leadership style that, based on Cook’s actions, were probably very distasteful to Cook. Employees were subject to Jobs’ whims and fancies. He was the typical entrepreneur, driven and impulsive. He was a type A personality to the nth degree, but Cook has “deviated from Jobs management tack and style.” Cook has approved a charitable giving program that Jobs previously opposed.

Where we really see Cook’s stamp on the company is the recent dismissal of two leaders that previously flourished under Jobs management style. These key individuals, Scott Forestall (initiator of the new Map App) and John Bowett (in charge of retail stores), did not fit in the new Apple.

A recent event demonstrated this fact. Recently Tim Cook apologized for the Map App failure. He asked Forestall to sign the apology and he wouldn’t. This was a career decision. Soon afterwards he was dismissed. It appears that Jobs management style was such that executives would clash, and expect Jobs to make the final decision. Jobs created a highly political organization, relying on him for the final decision. As long as the emperor liked you you were fine. Cook’s style appears to be more participative, as indicated by the shakeup. “The shake-up demonstrates Mr. Cook’s resolve to tackle thorny personnel issues that Mr. Jobs would let fester. Mr. Jobs long kept the strong personalities at Apple in check by always casting the winning vote or by having the last word.” Jobs forceful control of the culture would not allow the underlying problems emerge. The problems were there, just not acknowledged or solved.

Decision-management theory argues that this type of decision style does not allow for the most creative solutions. This anti-dialogical communication structure was held together simply by the power of one man, Jobs – the creative genius behind Apple. The last time Jobs was kicked out of Apple it floundered. However, this time, I don’t think that will be the case. Cook is a forceful leader who knows when to watch and when to act. He has been the CEO at Apple for over a year now and is placing his stamp on the company. The WSJ reported that “people inside and outside Apple said Mr. Cook is trying to steady the ship. They have expressed relief that the Cupertino, CA company is run more smoothly than under Mr. Jobs, when employees lived under constant fear of falling victim to Job’s tirade or a whim.”

As it stands right now I am a Tim Cook fan. Any time a leader can rid him or herself of individuals who are only in it for money and personal benefit, the organization is better off. I think Apple is in good hands, I hope I am right.

And that is my thought for the day!

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One thought on “Changes At Apple

  1. While I struggle sometimes with dismissal (i.e. “firing”) as a solution, sometimes it is necessary. But I agree 100% with the conviction that building relationships is at the heart of strong, healthy, ethical leadership. Thanks for the blog.

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