• Nicole Lisson

Core Promise: More Powerful Than You Imagine?

The outgoing editor of Fast Company magazine offers thirteen reasons why Apple is the only company to have made their “most innovative” list every year since 2008.

…category-redefining products don’t just defy the adage that scale hampers agility and creativity–they obliterate it.

Fast Company 02.21.18 Why Apple Is The World’s Most Innovative Company

What drives us is making products that give people the ability to do things they couldn’t do before.


I don’t buy Apple products, but greatly admire good business leadership. In that regard, this recent article is definitely worth a read. Some of my favorite Cook comments are below:

  • I look at my own life, and I couldn’t make it through a workout without music. I don’t go to the gym for the fun of it. You need something to push you, to motivate you, and for me, that’s music. It’s also the thing at night that helps quiet me. I think it’s better than any medicine…

  • There is more noise in the world than change. One of my roles is to try to block the noise from the people who are really doing the work. …in the scheme of things versus our revenue, we’re doing very few things.

  • Think about the production that goes into a recording of a song. Great artists spend enormous time thinking about every detail. If you get this little squeaky speaker, all of that is gone! All of the art and craft of music is gone. [HomePod] is the realization that that is important. Part of the enjoyment in music is hearing the full sound. …And it’s that goal that drives everybody to keep working ungodly hours and trying to do the best work of our lives.

What really impresses me is the company’s clarity of purpose. They invest in what they think is important.

These tenets, gleaned from Cook’s remarks, provide an excellent environment for both brain and business - minimizing stress and waste, and optimizing intelligence:

  • They build what they believe will make peoples’ lives better, richer, more enjoyable. They ‘don’t use customers as guinea pigs.’ [People said the iPhone] ‘could never work because it didn’t have a physical keyboard.’

  • Everyone is empowered to invest in what they believe will make their [few] products the best they Can be. They don’t rush. ‘We have patience to wait until something is great before we ship it.’

  • They make lots of mistakes

  • They do not attend profit reports, and continue to invest in products that ‘don’t make money’.

Cook is not the first to use the principle: empower people to fulfill the company’s core promise and the rest will take care of itself. He walks in the legacy of Semler and DePree, building great companies with extraordinary profitability through internal focus, and certainly Jobs, building great products.

I have found internal leading indicators, based on a core Promise, to be powerful drivers of growth and innovation: an excellent way to promote business agility.

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