Apple, Inc. was started by two friends in a garage in 1976, and has since grown into one of the largest companies in the world. Despite having a turbulent past, and losing its CEO at a pivotal time in its history, the company has adapted and grown to not only pioneer new markets, but also make a dent in pop culture.
Though many may argue that Apple’s success is based largely on its future-minded engineers, iconic marketing campaigns, product functionality, or the level of service it provides its customers, the truth is that they’ve remained successful because they’ve protected one of their most valuable assets: their internal systems.
Systems Over People means protecting the internal processes of your business, by developing a well-trained and adaptable staff. It means:
- Having systems that are formalized and documented
- Having employees who are trained and retrained on your systems
- Having those systems tested and re-tested consistently to secure peak efficiency
You need to ensure that your staff is fully prepared to shift roles and responsibilities within your organization at any given moment, because as an owner you need to protect your business from the impacts of terminations, promotions, sicknesses and deaths.
In August of 2011, Apple announced that Steve Jobs was stepping down as CEO of the company, and that he tapped Tim Cook, Apple’s then Chief Operating Officer, to take his place.
Cook was a well-established 13-year member of the Apple team at that time, making his mark in the company by improving worldwide sales and operations, and overhauling Apple’s manufacturing, distribution and supply chain processes. With his “Inventory is fundamentally evil” approach, Cook had managed to reduce the amount of time a stock item sat on a shelf from months to days, saving Apple many millions of dollars. Time and time again, he proved his effectiveness as a leader.
After Jobs passed away in October 2011, Apple continued to witness exponential growth under Cook’s leadership. The reason for this successful transition of power was because Jobs recognized the talents and abilities of Cook, and prepared the upcoming CEO, and the company, for his new leadership role. In fact, the systems and principals of excellence were, and remain, the culture of Apple today.
No matter the size of your business, document and instill a systems-based approach to running your office. Great employees and disciplined systems will equal great success. If you allow employees to create their own systems and disciplines, you as the owner will pay the price.
Jobs, for all his fanaticism, created an environment at Apple of efficiency and excellence that could live on without him!