How Tim Cook Handles Mistakes

August 15, 2016, 1:16 PM UTC
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Kicks Off In San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 13: Apple CEO Tim Cook leads the audience in a moment of silence in tribute to the victims of the Orlando terrorist event at an Apple event at the Worldwide Developer's Conference on June 13, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Thousands of people have shown up to hear about Apple's latest updates. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton — Getty Images

Tim Cook values privacy highly but he’s often much more candid than his former boss, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. For one thing, he doesn’t shy away from discussing his “screw-ups.”

Take his first hire to run Apple’s (AAPL) retail store strategy, former Dixons CEO John Browett, who lasted just six months. “He didn’t fit here culturally is a good way to describe it,” Cook told The Washington Post, in a wide-ranging interview published over the weekend to mark his fifth anniversary as CEO. (He took another year to find someone who did, former Burberry (BURBY) CEO Angela Ahrendts.)

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Another mistake you may already have forgotten (by design): Apple’s misguided decision back in 2012 to replace Google as the default map app on iPhones—sending people to roads that didn’t exist and completely ignoring public transportation. Cook’s response: Apologize publicly and move on. He told the Post:

The classic big-company mistake is to not admit their mistake. They double down on them. Their pride or ego is so large that they can’t say we did something wrong. And I think the faster you do that, the better — change gears to something else. If you’re honest, people will give you the benefit of the doubt.

Have you noticed that people are asking the question “What would Steve do?” far less frequently?

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