Management at Apple, Inc
Apple is an international technology company based in America and whose headquarters are situated in Cupertino in California. The company designs, creates, and trades electronic products, computer software, web-based services, and personal computers. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak initiated it in 1976 and it was primarily intended to create and trade personal computers. The company enjoys a significant amount of brand loyalty, and is ranked as the most valuable brand whose worth is estimated at 118.9 billion. This paper aims at evaluating Apple’s management activities to establish whether it is properly managed or not (Matthew, 2007).
Apple’s management practices
Apple’s successes are attributed to the significant changes in management styles that have taken place since its inception. One significant change in management style occurred when organizational leadership shifted from Steven Wozniak to Steven Jobs. According to (Matthew, 2007), Steven Wozniak employed the traditional hierarchical management style that perpetuated significant organizational successes. Wozniak’s management style was characterized by an entrepreneurial mind where he also sought to integrate the newest technology in creating new products that were incomparable to those created by other rival companies. This was driven by his passion to increase products sales and hence he sought to improve an existing product if at all he realized that its sales had ceased to grow. Innovativeness was not a component of Wozniak’s management style as he never initiated any product from scratch but always created his own version from an already existing product (Diane, 2011).
An investigative inquiry by Todd and Michael (2010) showed thatThe shift in leadership power from Wozniak to Jobs perpetuated a significant shift in management style, which enhanced successful progress of the organization. Unlike Wozniak, Jobs drifted away from the traditional style of management and adopted an abrasive approach to management. His main task was to plan and device the company’s future product creation strategies but left the actual responsibility of leading and organizing to his management team. This way, he presented himself as a visionary leader that used subordinate employees to put his vision into practice (Matthew, 2007). Unlike the case with Wozniak, Jobs believed in hiring creativity rather hiring engineering experts. Jobs aimed to enhance innovativeness hence the reason he aimed to work with creative minds irrespective of whether they were zoologists, artists or musicians provided they could generate innovative ideas and change the world. Micromanagement was a significant aspect of Jobs leadership style, which was driven by his urge to promote innovativeness and as a result it enhanced great success in the wider company.
Upon assuming leadership in the company, Jobs created a new vision and goals that would motivate the subordinate workers. He further integrated the “across-the-board” planning process as well as team strategy that enabled programmers and engineers to integrate their skills in developing new products (Diane, 2011). Everything that ranged from production to launching and sale of a product had to go through him. He also delegated activities to teams but placed a direct responsibility on each individual. This meant that individuals entrusted to specific activities did not have a chance to fail. All Apple employees were thus aware that they did not only have the responsibility of generating great products but they also had to meet Jobs vision perfectly. A study by Todd and Michael (2010) showed that secrecy was also an important aspect of Jobs’ management style, which even applied to employees in that they would only be allowed to learn what was going in their respective departments without sneaking a look into other departments. This enhanced a great deal of success as innovative ideas would not be bleached or be tapped by rival companies (Matthew, 2007).
A study by Diane (2011) showed that another significant change in Apple’s management style was experienced when leadership shifted from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook. Unlike Jobs, Cook upon assuming the company leadership, drifted away from Jobs’ abrasive management approach to the traditional hierarchical approach. Tim Cook does not aim for the spotlight through assuming overall organizational leadership but he aims to diversify leadership through employing leadership hierarchies. This way, Tim believes that individuals serving in this hierarchy can bring varying talents and experiences that promote innovativeness (Diane, 2011). Tim does not believe in selling a personal vision to the organization as he views this as a way of making people to pretend being what they are not. Instead, he encourages employees to adopt diverse styles as long as they would comply with the overall objective in enhancing organizational productivity. Transparency is also another key aspect of Tim’s management style as he opened doors not only to employees but to the outside world to see how Apple’s systems work (Todd & Michael, 2010).
From the drastic change in Apple’s management style after Jobs departure, I believe that the company is poorly managed. This is because Cook has eliminated Jobs’ abrasive management style that held every manager responsible for successful realization of certain goals and reintroduced the hierarchical approach that inhibits effective collaboration among the management team. Evidence gathered by Diane (2011) shows that the secretive culture withheld by Jobs has also been thwarted, which perpetuates spillage of all secrets attributing to the company’s success to the public. This will eventually violate Apple’s competitive edge as rival companies will not only be able to replicate its ideas but will also modify them for their own benefit (Diane, 2011). Due to lack of innovativeness, Tim has not been able to introduce anything new, but instead, he has relied on already existing products to increase the total revenue of the company. This has in return interfered with the brand name recognition, thereby raising doubts about the company’s ability to market products effectively (Todd & Michael, 2010).
Scholarly evidence indicates that Apple’s senior management played an important role in perpetuating the most recent change. This is because the team named Tim as the next CEO after Jobs resigned, and as such, they created an entry point for this transition in management style. In preparing Tim to take over his new position, the senior management recruited him to work in the supply chain and marketing department for more than a decade, which enabled him to gain a hands-on experience on how to conduct business with the company’s stakeholders (Diane, 2011). Before Jobs resigned, he allowed Tim to define the product development and marketing strategies as well as coordinate executive appointments. This enabled him to slowly integrate his own management style, which would eventually be fully integrated upon Jobs resignation. A study conducted by Todd and Michael (2007) indicates that the most recent change was not problematic but seamless. This is because the organization’s top management was already familiar with Tim as he had previously worked in the supply and marketing departments for more than a decade. Similarly, Tim had already integrated his leadership approach for more than a decade before fully assuming the top position, and as such, organizational members were already familiar with his management style. In addition, Tim always included the senior management in making key decisions, and as such, organizational leaders were well informed about potential change before it was implemented (Matthew, 2007).
The fact that Tim’s management style has attributed to drastic decline in company’s revenue explains why the management team has resolved to use vendors and spokespersons. As evidenced by Diane (2011), Jobs believed in making fewer promises but making deliveries that exceed consumers’ expectations. This however is not the case with Tim who does just the opposite by making many promises but delivering below consumers’ expectations. This has been attributed by lack of innovative ideas that can enhance production of high quality products. As a result, Apple’s top management has resolved to use spokespersons that would pay undivided attention on product design details. This would be beneficial to the organization as it would enhance integration of innovative approaches in product development, which would eventually enhance production of high quality products that exceed customers’ expectations. A evidenced by Todd and Michael (2010), Tim’s style of manage is equally dragging the production process, and hence, products are taking a long time before reaching the market. The management has thus resolved to use vendors to avoid the risk of shortages among other vendor-related issues that could interfere with production. This development will be beneficial to the organization as it will increase the number of companies that Apple works with, thereby reducing the risk of relying on one company thereby exposing itself to the risk of business failure (Matthew, 2007).
As a manager at Apple, I would suggest implementation of a supportive innovation culture as the most appropriate idea that can be used to improve customers’ as well as employees’ experience. Building this culture would ensure that company only works with people that have creative minds. The strategy that I would employ in employing this idea is ensuring that the company hires people that can “Think outside the Box”. This will ensure that individuals are hired for their innovative capacity, which will enable them to create high-quality products that would enhance customers’ experience. (Todd &Michael, 2010).
Given Tim’s current low level of innovativeness, Apple may not adapt effectively to changing consumer needs and market environment. This is because his lack of innovativeness is slowing down the production process thereby slowing the pace at which new products are delivered into the market. One important change that can be made on the management structure is that the traditional hierarchy should be abolished. This would ensure that creative minds are not limited to voice their ideas because of their position on the hierarchical ladder (Diane, 2011).
Apple is renowned for being the market leader in the information technology industry. The company has experienced drastic changes in management styles, which went hand in hand with shift in top leadership. The change of leadership from Steve Wozniak to Steve Jobs changed the management style from the traditional hierarchical management to abrasive management. This however shifted back to traditional hierarchical management when Tim Cook took over from Jobs. Today, it is obvious that the company is poorly managed, which is the reason why it continues to report constant failure. The company should however use vendors and spokespersons as well as modify its management structure to promote successful progress.
Diane, S. (2011). A Tribute to Steve P. Jobs, Nursing Education Perspectives, 32(6):591-678.
Matthew, K. (2007). The Apple Way: 12 Management Lessons from the World’s Most Innovative Company, Journal of Applied management and Entrepreneurship, 12(1):91-211.
Todd, F and Michael, M. (2010). Steve Jobs and Apple, Inc. Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, 16(7):90-119.