At Apple’s most recent earnings call COO Tim Cook began his portion with a short riff on Apple’s vision and character, to reassure analysts that Apple was in no imminent danger of collapse with Steve Jobs away on medical leave.
We are on the face of the earth to make great products
Some of what Cook said was quite profound. He said this about Apple:
We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.
Not many companies see themselves–and their challenge–in such an elemental context. What’s amazing is that this is an entirely credible statement coming from Apple. They have the game-changing products and services to back it up.
Could Michael Dell say the same thing about his company, with a straight face? How about Steve Ballmer? Would anyone believe them?
Are there people in Redmond placed on the face of the earth to create the Zune? That could be scary.
The brand as destiny
What Apple taps into here is the brand as destiny. It’s the brand as primordial power, a prime mover of creation, culture and context, and never, ever, an add-on. It’s akin to Dylan Thomas’s, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.”
Great companies know the feeling. The brand is an operating principle that pervades all aspects of the business. It’s a force, and poetry, and something like kaizen.
Tim Cook’s statement at the earnings call
Here’s more of what Tim Cook said when he first spoke during the earnings call. There’s perhaps a wee bit of (excusable) puffery, but the values and the focus seem dead on.
There is extraordinary breadth and depth and tenure among the Apple executive team, and they lead 35,000 employees that I would call wicked smart – and that’s in all areas of the company from engineering to marketing to operations and sales and all the rest. And the values of our company are extremely well entrenched. We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.
We are 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 that 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. And I would just reiterate a point Peter made in his opening comments that I strongly believe that Apple is doing the best work in its history.
Full transcript of the call.