Can One Change without Changing?

I just read what Slate says is Tim Cook’s first email to Apple’s employees as the new CEO.  He said, and they choose to pull this thought for their headline of the piece, that “I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change.”

I expect I know (partly from reading the context of the statement) what he meant, and I expect that he didn’t really mean that Apple won’t change.

After all, one of the things that has made Apple the “most innovative company in the world” is it’s ability to change.  Change products, change delivery methods, change the way you and I think about computers, the list is long and impressive.

If Apple is to continue to be the most innovative company in the world, or even one of the most innovative, Apple will indeed continue to change.

On the other hand, in a line not chosen by Slate for the headline, but one at least as important to Mr. Cook’s gaining (or retaining) the confidence of his employees, is this:

 I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA.

Apple’s “principles and values,” which operate at a level analogous to DNA, are what Cook means won’t change.  Whatever change and adaptation is called for in response to the world, to the market, etc., will occur within the same framework that Apple has established.

These days, however, we know that even DNA may not be as fixed as we once thought.  Genes now open or close – adjust – depending on circumstances, surroundings, trauma, etc.  The old (modern) dialectic of nature and nurture is a relic. The two cannot be separated.

We all change; sometimes in an effort to remain the same change is necessary.  As I look back at younger and earlier versions of myself (currently I am on Steve Heyduck 47.10), I can see some stability lying beneath an immense amount of change.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that if I hadn’t changed over time I would hardly be recognizable as the same person.

But, alas, as Chip and Dan Heath point out so clearly in Switch, we are not opposed to change – we are opposed to change that surprises us or is outside our control.

Apple will change; and so will we all.  What interests me, especially with regard to leadership of and through change, is upon what foundation(s) does one stand to face change, or to bring it about?

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