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Report: Phil Schiller has a friendly ‘NFW’ shorthand for killing bad ideas

A new report from The Information today takes a look at 180 influential leaders at Apple who are molding the future of the company. Among the topics discussed including Tim Cook and his management style and the rise of other leaders at the company, is an interesting detail about a “NFW” shorthand that SVP Phil Schiller allegedly uses to shoot down bad ideas.

The Information says the anecdote about Schiller comes from one of his lieutenants:

He holds considerable sway over Apple’s product roadmaps and can shoot down a project if he disapproves of it, they said. When the Spotlight search team was pitching a new feature in a meeting a few years ago, for example, one of Mr. Schiller’s lieutenants told the group that his response to the proposal was “NFW”—short for “no f***ing way.” The feature was shelved.

However, it’s hard to know if this is indeed true. For example, back in 2014, the book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs recounted a story that Jobs once threw a pen at Eddy Cue’s face, but we heard firsthand from Cue that it didn’t happen.

The report also notes how Tim Cook approaches his CEO role as a delegator and guide and doesn’t often get involved with product decisions.

Unlike Mr. Jobs, a legendary control freak, Mr. Cook is a consensus-builder who tends to closely consult with his top lieutenants. A former operations and supply chain guru for Apple, he avoids meddling in product decisions, as Mr. Jobs did, people familiar with his leadership said.

Apple employees told The Information that one upside to Cook’s style of management is that the company is less political compared to the Jobs era.

One advantage to Mr. Cook’s approach is that relations between the company’s senior vice presidents are less politically volatile than they were in the Jobs era, said current and former employees. When conflicts arise, Mr. Cook expects his lieutenants to resolve their differences. Mr. Jobs often picked sides and saw benefits to pitting executives against each other, they said.

The report also includes a chart showing the top 180 leaders and notes the current 132,000 employees on staff at Apple. Notably that number has more than doubled since 2011 when Tim Cook started his role as CEO.

Check out the full report here.

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.