It’s hard to believe that it has already been a little over eight months since Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away. Since that time, Jobs’ successor Tim Cook has started coming into his own. When Jobs first relinquished his position as CEO in August 2011 because of failing health, many wondered how the change in leadership would alter Apple’s way of doing business overall. Some changes have already become apparent.
For example, when Jobs was CEO, it was Cook’s job as chief operating officer (COO) to drop in on investor meetings. When he assumed the role of CEO, it might have been expected that those visits would cease. They didn’t. Five months after taking over as CEO, Cook made an appearance during a presentation for investors. Once the presentation concluded, Cook shared his own thoughts and views and answered investors’ questions. According to Adam Lashinsky, Jobs would have never bothered. Something else that Jobs wouldn’t have done that Cook did was to offer shareholders dividends. He has also implemented a program whereby Apple will match, dollar for dollar, employees’ charitable donations.
Cook has made it clear that won’t he make the mistake of always asking “What would Steve do?” when faced with making a decision. For example, instead of taking Jobs’ dismissive approach to reports of the atrocious working conditions endured by workers at Foxconn, the contract manufacturing company responsible for assembling most of Apple’s products, in China, Cook chose to visit Foxconn and didn’t shy away from photographers who wanted to document it.
Many have noticed other changes at Apple that are transforming it into a more traditional company, which is not necessarily a good thing. But change is inevitable, and Cook has to feel comfortable. Still, according to Lashinsky,
Even as he tweaks the Apple operating manual, Cook goes to great pains to pledge allegiance to the corporate culture Steve Jobs created. Asked at the Goldman investor forum how his leadership might change Apple and what of its culture he intended to maintain, Cook ignored the first part of the question and focused only on the latter. “Steve grilled in all of us over many years that the company should revolve around great products and that we should stay extremely focused on a few things rather than try to do so many that we did nothing well.” He called Apple a “magical place” where employees could do “their life’s best work.”
Cook appears to be Jobs’ polar opposite. He’s more accessible for one thing. Imagine the surprise on the faces of Apple employees the first time the company’s new CEO sat down to have lunch with them.
Yes, Apple is going through some major changes that Jobs worshippers will have to get used to. But it’s still too soon to know exactly how the company will fare under Cook’s leadership. We’ll just have to wait and see.