Tim Cook’s Apple: More MBAs, more emphasis on execution

May 24, 2012, 10:19 AM UTC

Cook at the launch of the new iPad

FORTUNE — Adam Lashinsky, whose 240-page book
Inside Apple
taught us more about how Apple (AAPL) works as a company than 656 pages of the 
Steve Jobs
biography, has the cover of the current issue of Fortune: How Tim Cook Is Changing Apple.

Lashinsky touches all the bases that had previously been reported — the new dividend, the trips to China and Washington, D.C., the Goldman Sachs presentation, etc.

But he also identifies some subtle, internal changes we hadn’t heard about, and which could turn out to be significant:

  • More MBAs: “When Adrian Perica, a former Goldman Sachs banker, joined Apple several years ago, he was the only executive whose sole remit was dealmaking,” Lashinsky writes. “Steve Jobs basically ran M&A for Apple. Today Perica heads a department with three corporate-development professionals under him and a staff supporting them, so that Apple can work on three deals simultaneously. Indeed, the vibe, in the words of a former employee, is of an Apple that is becoming “far more traditional,” meaning more MBAs, more process, and more structure. (In point of fact, 2,153 Apple employees reference the term “MBA” in their LinkedIn profiles out of a nonretail workforce of nearly 28,000. More than half the employees who reference “MBA” have been at Apple less than two years.)”
  • More emphasis on operational efficiency: “It looks like it has become a more conservative execution engine rather than a pushing-the-envelope engineering engine,” says Max Paley, a former engineering vice president who worked at Apple for 14 years until late 2011. “I’ve been told that any meeting of significance is now always populated by project management and global-supply management,” he says. “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.”

Old Apple hands tend to worry that changes like these mean that the company is becoming more “normal,” less “Apple-like.”

But they could also mean that the company is growing up.

You can read Lashinsky’s piece here.