Great leaders lead differently. There’s no set formula or class one can take which turns a person into a leader. You know, different strokes for different folks, and all that. By all accounts, Jobs’ management style was much different than Cook’s. Think confrontation vs. collaboration and you’re probably close.
It’s Mental Floss
There’s also little doubt that Cook’s Apple is a kinder, gentler Apple than the company was under its iconic co-founder. Would Jobs have given tens of billions of dollars to shareholders in dividends? Probably not. Would Jobs have issued a stock buyback of tens of billions of dollars to prop up a stock? Probably not. Would Jobs have gone into debt to buy back stock? Probably not.
For lack of a better term, Jobs was Apple’s official mental floss, while Cook appears as more of collaborative manager who is not afraid to draw lines in the sand, but favors a different, less confrontational approach.
Frankly, I miss some of the mental floss that Jobs used to keep the tartar from building up at Apple. Since Jobs passed away, new products from Apple have gone into an interesting stage of evolution not seen often in the past. New products are announced, then launched, and then, over many months, brought up from the obvious beta stage to an acceptable version 1.0 product (but with a higher version number than 1.0).
That exact scenario occurred with Apple Watch– announcement, launch, slow update to an acceptable, shipping version months later; iPad Pro– announcement, launch, with key features and components missing until a later date (wherefore art thou, Pencil and Smart Keyboard?). Ditto for Apple TV, where early adopters are paying in advance for a promise of features to come in the future, but not yet available.
Even iOS 7, iOS 8, iOS 9, and OS X Yosemite and El Capitan received the same modus operandi– announcement, launch, rapid fixes over many months to get the product into a state of acceptability by critics.
Who was Apple’s biggest critic?
Through the years, especially on hardware but software, too, Jobs pushed designers and engineers to deliver a usable, shippable, basic version of a product that would work great out of the box. Jobs acted as the company’s mental floss which issued a bit of pain to scrub away to build up of a substance with no value, but plenty of opportunity to cause damage.
If Cook does the same thing then it does not appear to be as visible because recent product launches– iOS and OS X, Watch, Apple TV, iPad Pro– all appeared publicly as more beta than finished products ready for prime time.
That’s Apple under Cook who, it appears, dares to go where no Jobs has gone before.