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Sitting with employees during lunch and introducing supply management personnel to product meetings are just some of the changes Tim Cook is making at Apple, as the chief executive attempts to put his stamp on the technology giant.
The changes have been revealed in a new profile at Fortune, which chronicles how Cook is managing to control the company in the post-Steve Jobs era.
Analysts have questioned whether Cook will be able to keep Apple successful – his focus on engineering rather than design has been cited as a liability.
But during that time, Apple’s market value is up $140 billion since Cook got the job and reported $31 billion in profits, exceeding market expectations.
And he’s done something else too – introduced a number of small, cultural changes that have started to influence the way people work at the company.
These aren’t dramatic shifts, but they show how Cook is handling Apple with his own style, and not following Jobs’ example – which was actually one of Jobs’ own dying wishes.
Here are five ways that Cook is changing the way Apple is managed:
Steve Jobs wasn’t much of an executive to spend a lot of time with individual employees. But Cook seems to be changing that.
Fortune says Cook specifically sits with random employees at lunchtime. While this is a minor change, it’s an interesting one – he’s attempting to give workers a completely different view of the person at the top job.
Steve Jobs was notorious for being harsh on his employees, sometimes making them cry in front of other workers. It seems Cook is taking a different approach, demanding good performance but with less of the screaming.
“I think people are breathing now,” one employee said.
Apple holds a retreat every year for its “Top 100” employees, a move which Job initiated. The employees head to a hotel complex for a three-day conference in order to give presentations on new products and set the next year’s agenda.
The conference is still secretive, but as Fortune points out, the mood is a lot more “fun”.
“Cook was said to be in a jovial, joke-cracking mood – a stark contrast to the grim and fearful tone Jobs engendered at the meetings.”
“Participants left the Top 100 energised about Apple's near-term outlook, presumably having seen Apple's next iPhone and perhaps its long-awaited television product too. One veteran executive was ‘blown away’ by what he had seen, says someone this executive spoke to afterward.”
Jobs rarely spoke to investors, but Cook is making time to do so. Last year, during a presentation to the company’s biggest investors, Cook was there for about 20 minutes.
For the first time in a long time, investors have access to the company’s chief executive: Time will reveal whether that’s a good or bad thing.
Cook is responsible for getting the company’s supply chains on track during the late 1990s – his control of that area of the business is seen as one of his biggest strengths. Now, it seems, he’s bringing that to the rest of the company.
According to Fortune, every major meeting now has project management and supply management personnel in attendance.
However, some say this may not be the best move – including former engineering vice president Max Paley.
"When I was there, engineering decided what we wanted, and it was the job of product management and supply management to go get it. It shows a shift in priority."
Regardless of merit, it’s a change that shows Cook is keen on shifting the priority of some areas of the business that will only become more evident over time.
This article first appeared on SmartCompany.