The Cook Doctrine

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.

– Tim Cook, Acting Apple CEO, January 2009 FQ1 2009 Earnings Call

See also: Apple vs. Exxon-Mobil

  • Oh yeah, I think Apple is going to be just fine. Another great thing Jobs has done is establish a culture so deep that they can continue without him. Of course everyone hopes he returns, but when he does eventually leave, he will leave behind a great company.

    What is the original source for this quote, a speech? Would love to get the link.

  • This is the most reassuring non-health related post I've read since the news about SJ's most recent leave of absence. You've cut through the chatter with just the right interview quotes.

  • CndnRschr

    It sounds trite but over the last decade Steve Jobs has re-designed Apple in his own image. In essence, Jobs has cloned his DNA into the company and people like Ives and Cook will carry on the mantle (heck, I wouldn't put it past Apple to have developed some sort of Jobsian machine to ensure they adhere to "What Would Steve Jobs Do? doctrine"). We're all mortal and Jobs leadership has been so outrageously successful for the company that no one will dare question carrying on in the same manner. While it is also true that no one will truly replace Steve Jobs (and he hasn't gone anywhere yet), there is respect for his laser focus. The company will need to decide whether to live in his shadow or in his shoes.

    • dchu220

      WWJD (What Would Jobs Do). I've seen those bracelets around.

  • Splashman

    Can anyone here imagine someone from Microsoft, or RIM, or Google, or Nokia, or Sony, any other supposed tech market leader, making such a statement as Tim Cook is quoted here? It's clear, contains no buzzwords, and is backed up by the company's actions. Apple is in good hands.

    In stark contrast, Ballmer can't open his mouth without sounding like Dilbert's pointy-haired boss. (The only differences are that Ballmer is taller and has less hair.) And RIM's CEOs are almost unintelligible.

    • WaltFrench

      Yes, this IS a breath of fresh air.

      Nonetheless, any corporate statement is Kabuki (in the early sense of the word); Cook is just doing a great job at touting Apple.

  • Robbo

    Great quote. Agree with Prazan. Everyone else is spouting doom and gloom, and you cut to the chase. Apple is in good hands.

  • bill

    Around 14 years ago there was a blog called Apple Recon
    I started reading the blog which cost money for access when Steve Jobs
    returned to Apple. At that time the the author of the blog who had uncanny predictions
    in the past, laid out Apple's 20 year plan. At the time I thought the site was BS. They talked about how Steve had
    a vision of set top boxes(apple TV), computers which would start functioning as terminals with
    software, data and computing done at a central location(cloud computing) , the site also would always talk about integration and how the lines between our phones, tv's and stereo and computers would be blurred and unified by Apple. He talked about Apple's plans included to unify all appliances in our homes. The blog also
    would comment how this vision of Steve's will demand technology that wasn't yet available including:
    faster processors, smaller processors, cheaper memory and faster internet and communication. Here we are 14 years later and almost everything has come to light. The iPad was actually designed before the iphone!
    Steve's genius was realizing the market was not yet ready for such a device. Apple taught us how to use a touch device ie the iphone first. When we were ready and technology had evolved they released the iPad.
    Bottom Line Apple is executing a plan that was forged at least 10 years ago. I am sure they have not spent the
    last 10 years not thinking about the next 50! Also, to Steve, Apple is like his child I am sure much thought has gone into the future of Apple when he is no longer there to run the company! I believe Steve has left a very very solid plan for Apple not only with future product development but also with a very detailed and strong future leadership team of the company. I also understand why they might not want to make this public. What if competitors knew that Apple had plans for a CEO that is currently not at Apple? Think about it!
    Either way I wish Steve the fastest get well as possible. It would be a great loss not only to Apple but to all of us for the amazing amount of technology Apple has brought to the market which has changed and bettered all of our lives!

    • kevin

      I also remember the Apple Recon site. About a year ago, I searched all over the web for some remnant of it but couldn't find anything. That's the problem with the Internet; stuff disappears.

      That said, Steve Jobs is very much involved with the sharpening and polishing of products until it is just right before release (or holding up the release). The ability to choose just the right set of compromises is his genius. That's the part that I think Cook and the others will have a hard time getting just right two or three years down the road if Steve doesn't return.

      • dchu220

        'Stuff Dissapears' – You just made the case for why pure cloud is not going to happen.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        That's what is so great about Apple's way: iTunes has a cloud store but it also has a local library; Macs and iOS devices have cloud HTML5 but they also have native Cocoa; you have Pandora and Netflix streaming, but you also have iPod that works without any Internet connection. I don't think either wins. Taking a computer totally offline is insane but so is putting everything online.

      • Here's a link to the first couple of posts:

        And there's more in the Internet Archive:*/http://www.applereco

      • dchu220

        Nice find. I'll eat my words on this one.

      • kevin

        It is a good find. But these pages are from much later on. I remember stuff from much earlier, before and around the time of Jobs' 2001 (I think) MacWorld address where he talked about the digital hub. The blogger had diagrams showing how the various devices that would integrate and connect to the hub. Maybe it was called something else back then.

      • chano

        But isn't rather pessimistic? Is it possible that Cook, Ive, Mansfield, Forstall and so many others can have worked alongside Jobs for a decade or more, in closely-coupled meetings to iron out every detail, consider every alternative etc etc, without absorbing most of his judgmental criteria and decision-making thinking 'tools'?
        I can remember how much I have been informed by a few great teachers, bosses and colleagues. My OS is pretty good largely due to their hacking into my thinking processes and sharing their insights.

        You cannot work across the table in meetings with Jobs and team, for hours on end, for days beyond counting, sifting through the minutiae of product decisions without coming away profoundly and repeatedly (re)informed by their thinking and its enhancements to your own thinking skills.

        Jobs calls it Apple's DNA.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        Even many users can tell you what Steve would do. The culture is really strong.

    • davel

      A long time ago I had the pleasure of attending two different talks at the NY Unix user group by Thompson and Ritchie.

      They started talking about different topics but ended up discussing a project called Plan 9.

      Essentially it was a reworked Unix where all the components were remote. CPU/Storage/Programs.

      Essentially cloud computing. This was before fat network pipes.

      I love Steve Jobs, but he does not come up with his ideas in a vacuum. It is cross pollination. His genius is implementation of mature technologies in ways that others have not thought of.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        The idea of cloud computing is not new in any way at all. The Unix terminal used to be cloud computing, the actual computer you were talking to was not on your desk. But making cloud computing actually useful is the trick.

        Notice that the World Wide Web was created with Xcode on a Mac Pro, when they were called ProjectBuilder and NeXT cube, and the creator of the Web, who is a physicist, not a programmer, gives a lot of credit to those tools. That he put a graphical interface on the Internet using a computer that had a Mac interface on Unix is no accident. It took a few years just to port it to the common PC of the day, they had to wait for the PC to get a GUI and the Internet.

    • chano

      I believe it was Steve Jobs' 2001 Digital Hub presentation that marked the first announcement of his integrated yet expansive product strategy for the future. Every recent and current success derives directly from that simple, elegant but very far-sighted vision. Every competitor probably watched the presentation but yawned and fell asleep out of puzzlement and incomprehension. They're paying now for being asleep at the wheel then and in every year since.

  • tfaulk

    Agreed. Steve Jobs could write the same plus maybe a few "secrets" on a napkin, and several truly competent execs already within Apple could rule the company for another decade just by following the precepts. Jobs may be missed for his shear will and RDF in some key negotiations, but I doubt that really becomes necessary most times. There may be a few key decisions in the next decade for which there is no playbook where Jobs's vision will be missed, but I have as much faith in any exec within Apple as I do any other CEO of any other company.

    • 21tiger

      "Agreed. Steve Jobs could write the same plus maybe a few "secrets" on a napkin, and several truly competent execs already within Apple could rule the company for another decade just by following the precepts." 100% agreed. And we would all be lunatics to think he hasn't done something like that. By the way, with Apple now getting 30% return for iOS and Mac App Store apps, it's quite possible Steve's already ensured Apple's strength for the next 50 years. Apple isn't just a company, now they're a tax-collecting soverign nation. 😉

  • Les S

    In the hope of casting a little more light here:

    Thanks again for contributing to our understanding rather than helping to throw up even more distractions.

    • dchu220

      Great link. It's funny how both Cook and Jobs talk about intuition so much.

  • Splashman

    @tfaulk, I agree with your last point, and here's why: Can you imagine Jobs retaining an exec who wasn't extremely sharp and talented and who wasn't completely sold on Jobs' design philosophy? Neither can I.

    It's my opinion that the rather quick exit of Mark Papermaster had nothing to do with the iPhone4 antenna problems, but was the result of basic incompatibility with SJ.

  • Splashman

    @Les, thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that video before. He's a good speaker with a great message, and seems like a nice guy.

  • Thanks for posting this, apart from Steve Jobs, there are thousands of Apple employees like Tim Cook who never get the credit they deserve, and are working hard every day to bring their dreams to reality. Apple’s competitors got burned the last time they ‘took a day off.’ They would be wise to learn from their mistakes. Can’t wait for iPad 2.

  • bill

    Have been thinking about it and watched the you tube video of
    Steve Jobs giving the commencement speech to stanford
    He is very well aware of the inevitable. I can guarantee he has spent a lot
    of time thinking how apple will be run when he is gone.
    If I was Steve Jobs I would have already chose my successor especially knowing the health problems.
    It May be somebody really big who is currently the CEO of another tech company. Steve may have already
    talked to this CEO. Could you imagine the chaos if that kind of information became public!
    Lets imagine the scenario Steve invites Marc Zuckerberg over for dinner who he himself is a big Apple
    fan( don't believe me watch his interview on 60 min where he is shown using his mac pro). Tells Marc that he would like it if he takes over as CEO when the time comes. Ok so what if this was made public while Steve was still alive? How would Facebook be able to continue business with all its relationship with other tech companies. What if Steve lives another 20 years? Not to mention with Steve still alive could you imagine if the public knew about another CEO and that CEO was the head of a publicly traded stock what would happen to that companies stock. To Steve Jobs Apple is his child "I love Apple so much" I would imagine he is not willing to leave the success of Apple when he is gone to chance. Most importantly Steve has given the world so much I pray for his health not as The CEO of Apple but as a human being having to go through so much.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      No, Jobs' replacement will come from within. If they could run Apple, he would already have hired them. They're not going to put someone who is deep in some other company culture at the top of Apple. That is what killed Apple in the 1980's.

      Sharp contrast to Ballmer canning a bunch of top people lately and announcing the replacements will come from outside the company.

    • gctwnl

      I'm afraid that all this talk about Zuckerberg ignores the fact that there are huge differences between the two. Take for instance their stance about user privacy. I think Steve has more of a 60's attitude to the world (make a better world with computing) and Zuckerberg more of a 90's (make money with computing). For Facebook and Google, the underlying drive is not to make the world better but to make money off that world (think privacy & facebook) and the users are just a means to an end. Apple makes a lot of money, but it is a side-effect of its core more than the core itself.

  • Splashman

    @bill, I'm having a hard time imagining an Apple CEO being brought in from another company. Jobs has long railed against companies run by "the sales guy" (e.g., Microsoft, Adobe). Jobs has a design background and an intense appreciation for the importance of design, as well as his obvious saturation in the tech world. So which company is currently employing his replacement? As I said, it's hard to imagine.

    The only thing that makes any sense is promoting someone within Apple. Not sure who that would be. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be Ive or Cook. Beyond that, only Jobs knows who can best fill his shoes.

    And of course, I hope we don't find out for a long, long time.

  • I have saved this posting from Del Miller penned in 1999. Every time I read it I too give my heart felt thanks and utmost respect to Steve Jobs for what he has accomplished.

    • dchu220

      Thanks for the post. That's a story about Jobs that I have never heard.

    • kevin

      Thank you for the post. And it's clear in the first statement of the Cook Doctrine that Jobs' vision of making the best and greatest computers (but now in many other forms) carries on in the team and company he has built.

    • Del Miller

      Hi Duane, this is Del Miller. I was mighty surprised to see you that you had saved my story from so long ago. And flattered too, thanks.

      Historical Analogy: Military historians have long argued whether George Washington's remarkable military success was due to his greatness as a general or good luck or whatever. But the amazing thing is that Washington was really just a farmer with good sense, as sense of daring, loads of heart and courage and an immense reality distortion field. He wasn't really a general at first; he just grew into the role.

      I see Steve Jobs in much the same way.

  • dchu220

    Forget about the implications on Apple's stock price.

    How many CEOs have ever existed where so many people were concerned because they 'loved' him?

  • davel

    This news is very troublesome. I don't think it will affect Apple this year. It's plans for the year are set.

    It is the future products and direction I worry about. There are many talented people at Apple. Some moved to Palm and they were not able to put out a product people wanted. Perhaps they had time pressures or something that caused them to settle.

    Jobs has a focus and a will that is near impossible to duplicate. If he goes Apple will not be the same.

    Look at Microsoft. After Gates left they were not the same. I think they need a technical visionary. I do not see a vision at Microsoft.

    • dchu220

      According to Steve, the worst person to put in charge of an innovative company is the sales guy a.k.a. Balmer

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      One could argue that when Steve Jobs left Apple, he had even less success with NeXT than the people who started Palm. One could also argue that Palm was an offshoot of the old Scully Apple, a Newton spin-off, nothing to do with today.

      The people who are at Apple right now are the ones who built OS X, the Intel Mac and Mac OS, iPod, iPhone and iOS, iPad, world class consumer and pro apps like iLife and Final Cut and Logic, and Apple Retail and Apple Support. With or without Mr. Jobs, I wouldn't bet against any of those guys. I wouldn't even want to use any of their competitor's products, let alone invest in their competitors.

      • davel

        The systems you list were created by the Next crew which you say did not have success.

        At the time NextStep wasw lauded as a very innovative , leading edge development environment. I do not know why it did not have more success. But it did have cache. There were other leading edge development environments too.

        To counterpoint your argument – other than Next people being the drivers of the software OS Apple has today – Pixar was wildly successful.

  • Hamranhansenhansen

    Tim Cook is a gem. The fact that Apple has been a place where Tim Cook could succeed bodes very well for the future.

  • O.C.

    To be or not to be…for Apple is shall be the latter.

  • I love how clearly he states his vision. No jargon, no waffle. Delightful communication.

  • zzeed

    Like! Good one… Cook doctrine demonstrates that Apple survives without Jobs…

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  • dmarcoot

    Someone needs to share this with John Browett.

    • dgrayson98

      Never before has someone become so hated based on so little information.

    • I would image this was done by Tim Cook before and after hiring him.

    • JohnDoey

      That is the burden his job comes with. It’s a function of his predecessor’s success and the unique value of the property he is now curating. He needs to be more like the head of the Smithsonian and less like a manager at Wal-Mart.

  • oases

    I’m fairly sure that a few years before that, Jobs said Apple only did things where they could have complete control. Now it’s make a significant contribution. Reality’s a bitch.

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  • CRC

    “And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company…”

    Based on the recent (last 2-3 years) decline in software quality I’d say that’s obviously not true.