Asymco has a great post up titled simply ‘The Cook Doctrine’. It’s a compilation of statements from Tim Cook in a financial earnings call (for Q1 2009), while he was the Acting CEO for Apple during Steve Jobs’ leave of absence.
We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.
We’re constantly focusing on innovating.
We believe in the simple, not the complex.
We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
And I think, regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.
Taken together, these add up to one hell of a great company philosophy. They also offer cause for optimism on the company’s prospects even when Steve Jobs is no longer in charge.
And the strength of these organizations is that the core principles are not dependent on just one charismatic man at the top of the hierarchy.
Cook gets is. As did Lassiter at Pixar, another 21st century company until bought out by Disney. As I wrote back then:
In the Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen discusses the difficulty organizations have in utilizing disruptive technology in novel ways. The dilemma is that often the same processes that helped make them successful now prevent them from making the leap to a new technology set. See Clay Shirky’s article on the collapse of business models for some examples.
Even when they know that they have to change and even what the changes must be, they almost always fail in making the leap.
That is mainly in the way they are organized, how they are run and the types of communities they represent.
Yet companies that have Steve Jobs organizing them seem to have been able to do this. Apple defined personal computing, it defined the graphic user interface, the laptop, the MP3 player, the smartphone, the tablet computer. Pixar defined computer generated animation.
By creating organizations where innovations are not shuttled through layers of middle management, with each layer sucking the originality out, Jobs has been able to drive disruptive innovations rather than react to them.
The most amazing thing to me is that Apple has succeeded in being a market leader during two separate paradigm shifting market wars – first the graphical user interface wars between Apple vs Microsoft and now the Internet as interface wars between Apple vs Google. Microsoft’s inability to become a major player in the new way of the world is an example of corporations failing to make the leap, of suffering the Innovator’s Dilemma.
One important aspect of these sorts of 21st Century companies is that their strength is their community. It is very hard to alter the principles of a strong, cohesive community – living in Seattle I can still see the strong Scandinavian culture present, not only in businesses but in politics.
It looks like Cook certainly gets it.