Is Apple's Corporate Mission Statement from Steve Jobs?

Will the Real Apple Mission Statement Please Stand Up?

Tim Cook speaks during Apple special event
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As the most valuable company in U.S. history, there are many frequently asked questions about the Apple computer company, including questions about the Apple corporate mission statement, vision, and values, history, and founder.

The “official” Apple mission statement focuses completely on the present-day Apple offerings and products that already exist. Since a corporate mission statement is supposed to define the vision for the future, it is likely that an internal unpublished Apple corporate mission actually drives the Apple business.

Clues about what the “real” Apple mission statement might be can be found in Apple corporate documents.

The New Apple Leadership Legacy

In the absence of anything that resembles a traditional visionary mission statement that inspires employees to greatness and guides them in their decision-making, this statement from Tim Cook to potential new Apple employees works better than any of the quasi-mission statements above...

"Apple has always been different.  A different kind of company with a different view of the world.  It's a special place where we have the opportunity to create the best products on earth - products that change lives and help shape the future.  It's a privilege we hold dear."

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There seems to be a prevailing opinion that founder Steve Jobs was the charismatic visionary leader and, by comparison, Tim Cook's star is a bit dull.

 For those who believe that, consider these mission statement-esque words, which Cook offered in an interview shortly after Steve Jobs passed away...

"We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.

We are constantly focusing on innovating.

We believe in the simple not the complex.

We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.

We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.

We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.

And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.

And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well."

These words from Tim Cook are infinitely more inspiring and instructive than any quasi-mission statement that Apple ever identified as a "mission" while Jobs was alive.   And if Apple would own these words and fashion them into an  official corporate document, it would be a mission that is worthy of founder Steve Jobs and one that "we believe."

Founder's Influence on the Apple Company Mission

As one of the most legendary business leaders of the 20th and 21st centuries, Steve Jobs has been questioned, examined, and dissected thoroughly in an effort to understand what was going on inside of him that made him such a force of nature.  From all of that microscopic inquiry, it is generally agreed that these are some of the aspects of Jobs life that shaped who Steve Jobs as a person and a business leader. 

  • Steve Jobs was born in 1955 in San Francisco, California.  His parents were both recent college graduates and put him up for adoption.  Reportedly Steve felt as if he had been abandoned, which motivated him to achieve accomplishments big enough so that his birth parents would regret ever giving him away.
  • Jobs’ adoptive father was a mechanic who taught Jobs how to tinker with and fix machinery
  • Like many of the most famous retail founders, Jobs did not finish college.  But with the computer skills he had acquired growing up, Jobs was able to land his first job working for Atari
  • Jobs experimented with LSD while he was in college.  He traveled to India with a friend, shaved his head, hiked around, traveled like hippies, and took psychedelic drugs.  Jobs referred to his LSD/psychedelic drug experimentation as “one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life.” 

The mission, vision, and values of a company almost always reflect the mission, vision, and values of the founder.  In the case of Steve Jobs, it's easy to see how his life influenced his identity, and how his identity influenced his leadership and how his leadership influenced everything that we know today to be "Apple."