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Apple’s Core

Written by Jim Coyle on August 19, 2015

I recently read an article in Fortune about Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. This article focused on Tim and his leadership approach (Fortune voted him the best leader in the world this year).

In the article, Tim shares about his thoughts on culture or the core of a company. I liked his take on it. He said, “The culture of a company to me defines how excellent it will be, how helpful it will be, how ambitious it will be, how innovative it will be. But, if there’s self-honesty in the culture, [it also defines], how quick it is to admit the mistakes that every company makes. There is a whole set of things. Does the company have integrity or not? Does a company desire to do something more important than simply make money? Is there a reason for being, and do the employees really get the reason for being?”

Gino Wickman, author of Traction and creator of EOS, would call this the soul of the organization.

The Soul of Your Organization

One big perk of doing what I do (implementing EOS) is that I get to help organizations define their soul and then help them live up to it. The main tool we use to help define a business’ soul is the Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO). As a part of an organization implementing EOS, the leadership team answers three questions in the V/TO. These questions get to the root of what Tim was calling culture and what Gino calls soul. The questions are:

  • What are your Core Values, or who are you?
  • What is your purpose, or why do you do what you do?
  • What is your niche, or what are you great at doing?

Creating an Ingrained Culture

There are many companies that I have worked for that talk about culture as a thing that is created by allowing dogs to come to work or having a ping-pong table. These things do not create a culture. They might be outward examples of your culture but you can’t fake it. You need to do the work to determine who you are, why you do what you do, and what you are great at doing.

Get these answers down and make sure everyone is clear on them and then work continually and consistently to perpetuate them in your business. When you do this, you will get to your core and be able to develop a beautiful culture at your company.

As Tim Cook says about Steve Jobs, “What Steve did is ingrain that culture, and he deserves the mother of all trophies in life for doing that. He gave a great gift to the world there, and it’s probably one of those things that he’s under-appreciated for in the external world. He’s clearly not under-appreciated for it internally.”

Next Steps


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