Apple: simplicity at the core

Sept, 2 – BY TAM SANDEMAN – Last weekend I’m sure I was not the only one shocked to see the pictures of a frail Steve Jobs after what will no doubt become a historic shift in leadership for one of the world’s most impressive and much envied organisations. Handing the reins to Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook can have been no easy task for the man who has defined so much of the technology lifestyle innovation so many of us take for granted.

This change however does present an interesting challenge from an employee engagement and a leadership perspective. How does a successor to someone who ‘is’ the brand, someone who is known the world over, someone who is admired by employees and consumers alike, ensure that they come out of the starting blocks the right way. How do they build on the legacy as the same time as carve the right leadership niche for themselves and the company.

Admittedly in this instance, Tim Cook is an insider – he’s been with the business for 13 years, but despite the familiarity, it’s still a challenge.

My observation comes from the email sent to Apple employees (see below) immediately after this announcement from Tim Cook. The message is strong and clear and therefore very powerful. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure being Apple, this note will have had rigour behind it in its crafting – really making sure the tone hit the spot would have been critical. But it’s simple.

Simple. Passionate. Authentic. Focused on recognising the past, but also recognising what could be. With a strong call to action.

Clearly this can not exist in isolation. The incoming CEO needs to maintain momentum, demonstrate he’s listening, keep up the visibility and continue to inspire people in Apple’s vision and drive a clear strategy in which everyone can see how they play their part. However, if all new leaders take a few lessons from this simple email and ensure their communication ticks these boxes when they take over big roles – no matter how big – they too could capture some of that Apple factor that has clearly contributed to making them what they are today.

Something to think about.


I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of serving as CEO of the most innovative company in the world. Joining Apple was the best decision I’ve ever made and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to work for Apple and Steve for over 13 years. I share Steve’s optimism for Apple’s bright future.

Steve has been an incredible leader and mentor to me, as well as to the entire executive team and our amazing employees. We are really looking forward to Steve’s ongoing guidance and inspiration as our Chairman.

I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.

I love Apple and I am looking forward to diving into my new role. All of the incredible support from the Board, the executive team and many of you has been inspiring. I am confident our best years lie ahead of us and that together we will continue to make Apple the magical place that it is.