Tim Cook’s Clear Impact on Apple’s Culture

tim cook

Wow!  Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO was interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek about the reason that Scott Forstall was fired from Apple.  He said it was due to, “my deep belief that collaboration is essential for innovation.”  He add a level of detail when he said,  “You look at what we are great at. There are many  things. But the one thing we do, which I think no one else does, is integrate  hardware, software, and services in such a way that most consumers begin to not differentiate anymore.  So how do we keep doing that and keep taking it to an even higher level? You have to be an A-plus at collaboration.”

Let’s break this down.  Tim Cook calls out his belief.  He also identifies that the experience that a customer has with Apple products is clear in terms of identity and brand.  In between Beliefs and Brand are Management behaviors and culture.  Mr. Cook clearly identifies that in order to deliver the integrated customer experience that will continue to differentiate the Apple brand that collaboration is critical.

I don’t know Scott Forstall but clearly he is a competent, passionate builder who was incredibly important to Apple.  Often managers are reluctant to fire top performers just because they are so valuable.  What makes this stunning to me is that Tim Cook clearly, beyond a shadow of a doubt understands the linkage between his beliefs and the company brand.  And, he had the courage to make a tough decision that reinforced the culture that Apple must continue to strengthen.

Steve Jobs refused to make this decision – obviously his beliefs were different and he believed that he could manage the conflict that existed between Mr. Forstall and other executives.  More than any other thing I have read about Tim Cook, this to me speaks volumes about the impact that he will have on the culture at Apple.  Is it the right decision?  Time will tell, but if Mr. Cook did not act on his beliefs then the culture at Apple would get harder and harder to navigate.

By making the plain statements about the reasons for Scott Forstall’s exit the population at Apple has in great big BOLD LETTERS the clarity on which actions and behaviors will not be tolerated.

Now, how about this comparison:  Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s Windows President recently left Microsoft.  I have read many articles from reputable firms but I cannot get to clarity on why he left.  Did he quit?  Was he fired?  Was there a dust up?  From what I can parse together there was a similar problem with collaboration but I can’t quite piece together the complete picture.

Now, if I were an employee of Microsoft I would love to see something like the clear statement that has been framed about Scott Forstall’s exit.  I just don’t know the narrative behind this and therefore would not know how to change my behavior to strengthen the company culture.  Balmer’s lack of clarity on this topic is a lost opportunity to spell it out for the Microsoft employees.

If you have seen a clear description of Sinofsky’s departure post it in a comment so that we can break it down!

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