Former employee explains how Tim Cook made Apple boring

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Tim Cook wants to keep peace at Apple.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Tim Cook’s kinder, gentler management style is the biggest reason why 2016 was one of the most boring years for Apple in recent memory, according to a former employee of the company.

Steve Jobs was notorious for inciting conflict and competition between top employees, which him a controversial leader but also birthed some of the most iconic tech products ever (iMac, iPod and iPhone). After Cook took over, he worked to eliminate conflict within Cupertino’s walls and made employees less passionate, claims ex-Apple employee Bob Burrough.

In response to a tweet from Apple analyst Horrace Dediu, Burrough said the internal culture at Apple is vastly different today than it was five years ago when Jobs was at the helm. Burrough, whose LinkedIn profile notes that he worked as a software development manager at Apple from 2007 to 2014, says it’s a change outsiders can’t necessarily see.

Firing Scott Forstall

While Jobs used to boast that Apple could turn on dime to adjust to changes in the industry, now Apple seems like a giant monster that takes years to bust out big changes. Burrough claims that’s because after Cook fired VP of software engineering Scott Forstall, he sent a message to employees to not bring him conflict.

Burrough’s entire tweetstorm on the issue is well worth a read for fans worried that Apple might be losing its edge to the likes of Amazon, Google and Samsung.

Jobs definitely took a conflict-centric approach to management. In an interview after his return to Apple, he revealed that teams bumping up against each other and having fights helped them “polish” each other and their ideas to produce really great products.