Living Your Values Means Being Willing to Defend Your Values, Too

Are you following the Apple/Samsung patent infringement lawsuit?

I’ll admit, I’m an Apple fan. I use and enjoy their products at work and at home. The iPhone is no exception.

When you understand what it took to invent the iPhone, it’s easy to understand why Apple defends their patents so vociferously. This story in Slate walks through the entire process, giving a glimpse into Apple’s design approach most never see.

Here’s just a sample:

Put it all together and you get remarkable story about a device that, under the normal rules of business, should not have been invented. Given the popularity of the iPod and its centrality to Apple’s bottom line, Apple should have been the last company on the planet to try to build something whose explicit purpose was to kill music players. Yet Apple’s inner circle knew that one day, a phone maker would solve the interface problem, creating a universal device that could make calls, play music and videos, and do everything else, too — a device that would eat the iPod’s lunch. Apple’s only chance at staving off that future was to invent the iPod killer itself. More than this simple business calculation, though, Apple’s brass saw the phone as an opportunity for real innovation. ‘We wanted to build a phone for ourselves,’ Scott Forstall, who heads the team that built the phone’s operating system, said at the trial. ‘We wanted to build a phone that we loved.’”

How CEOs lead the corporate culture

With that context, it’s easy to understand why Apple CEO Tim Cook made this statement:

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For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money. It’s about values. We value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on Earth. And we do this to delight our customers, not for competitors to flagrantly copy.”

That’s from an internal memo from Mr. Cook to Apple employees. When I say CEOs must lead the culture in their organizations, this is what I mean. What a powerful statement on the importance of values to Apple – leadership will defend those values, even in a court of law.

Who leads the culture in your organization? Does your CEO take a stand on your culture?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


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