Jennifer Reingold for Fortune:
As a result, few outsiders have a handle on what, exactly, Ahrendt[s] has been doing, apart from small tweaks like new shirts for the sales staff (they can choose between T-shirts and polos), moving iPods to the back of stores, and deciding to no longer use the iPad to show prices on display tables. Says Marc Heller, who runs consultancy RetailSails: “My struggle with understanding what she does is I don’t know where her imprint is, other than the obvious.”
This was by design. “I didn’t dare say anything prior to six months,” Ahrendts says. “My dad used to tell me, growing up [citing Abraham Lincoln], ‘It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and relieve them of all doubt.’ So I kept remembering that and chose not to overcommunicate.” In the meantime, she embarked on a Hillary Clinton–style listening tour, visiting more than 100 stores, call centers, and back offices so far, answering questions, hearing complaints, and bestowing her infectious energy and empathy on employees. (You could call her Apple’s chief emotive officer.)
The whole article is rather fascinating, and it seems like this is a careful, calculated process. I think a lot of those critical of Ahrendts were expecting some sort of overnight change, throwing away everything that Apple had already done. Instead, she is taking the time to learn the culture, which is probably most important to winning over employees and setting up the stores for continued success.