As Apple continues to grow from strength to strength, now is a good time to analyze what Tim Cook is doing right.
Here is my view of the key differences between the way Cook works versus the typical CEO or company owner.
1. HE IS OBSESSIVELY FOCUSED ON ONLY A FEW PRODUCTS.
Compare Apple with Samsung. The shear breadth of Samsung’s product range is stunning, but Tim Cook takes an entirely different tact. He is ruthless at saying no to new products, unless Apple can not only produce the best in that category, but actually redefine what that category is. As he put it, “You can only do so many things great, and you should cast aside everything else.” And again: “But the DNA of the company, the thing that makes our heart beat, is a maniacal focus on making the best products in the world. Not good products, or a lot of products, but the absolute best products in the world.”
2. HE PUTS BUILDING A GREAT COMPANY AHEAD OF BUILDING A GREAT SHARE PRICE.
Tim Cook has repeatedly stressed that he views endless speculation about the share price as an unwelcome distraction from the real task at hand- producing and selling world changing products. As he expressed it, “Companies that get confused, that think their goal is revenue or stock price or something. You have to focus on the things that lead to those things.”
And even more stridently,” If you want me to only do things for ROI reasons then you should get out of this stock.”
3. HE ONLY RELEASES A PRODUCT WHEN IT IS TRULY OUTSTANDING.
A case in point is the Apple watch. Cook was under tremendous pressure early last year to announce a release date for the Apple timepieces. He resisted, even when he knew that competitors were working on similar products, because he knew that the product wasn’t yet good enough. Then when he finally announced the watch range, he still did not rush it’s release into the market.
4. HE REFUSES TO LOWER PRICES FOR MARKET SHARE.
Few industries are under more pressure to reduce prices than the computer sector. But again and again Tim Cook resists. He understands that price lowering is a game that is impossible to win and once begun is extremely difficult to stop. It also means reduced margins, which inevitably lead to lower product quality, which in turn lead to lower customer satisfaction.
Cook is adamant that moving away from premium pricing would greatly erode the Apple brand. “Price is rarely the most important thing. A cheap product might sell some units. Somebody gets it home and they feel great when they pay the money, but then they get it home and use it and the joy is gone.”
5. HE PLAYS THE LONG GAME, KEEPING THE COMPANY’S VISION IN MIND AT ALL TIMES.
The defining characteristic of Tim Cook’s reign at Apple so far is surely his commitment to the Apple ethos. That philosophy is completely focused on product excellence, and Cook has been absolutely clear that he will stick with that vision for however long he runs the company. “Apple has a culture of excellence that is, I think, so unique and so special. I’m not going to witness or permit the change of it.”
Rather than just admire Tim Cook, why not take a moment now to examine each of the points above and compare them to how your company operates. How could you improve things thinking more like Tim? Which of these five areas should you focus on to take your company to the next level?
Tim Cook is indeed a masterful CEO, but he is following strategies that almost any company could also do. Including yours.
To your success,
Siimon Reynolds | The Fortune Institute