Apple Inc. is a multinational corporation that was co-founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The company was incorporated in 1977 after creating it first computer. Apple Inc. is a company that creates consumer electronics such as personal computers, laptops, handsets (smartphones), tablets (iPads) and sells software. The company is based in Cupertino California.
In September 2012, Apple Inc. was named as the most valuable company on earth. Through the years, co-founder and CEO the late Steve Jobs has built the company with strong principals and unique management styles that has formed what is known as the apple culture throughout the customer base and internally among the employees. The company is a market leader in consumer electronics but still faces competition from Microsoft (Bove 4), IBM, Samsung, Toshiba, HP and Dell. Apple Inc. is an iconic company with a brand line that is deeply rooted in the hearts of many.
The company has a rich history of both ups and downs. It is arguably one of the companies with the most controversial management tales. For instance, in 1985, Steve Jobs; a cofounder and member of the board, was ousted from the company. He was voted out with a vote of no confidence by former Pepsi CEO who thought that his management and marketing style was ineffective.
The company faced dwindling sales in the 90’s and Microsoft (Bove 31) was able to catch up and take Apple Inc.’s market position. Steve Jobs started another company called NeXT and in a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT in 1996. Steve jobs became interim the CEO of Apple Inc. in 1997 and was later reinstated as the permanent CEO of the company. He came back with a different management style and radical ideas and philosophies such as “Think Different”. He saw the development of a successful brand chain of new products that were simple in design such as the original iMac which was developed in 1998. The functions of the management in relation to the company’s growth and success include:
Steve Jobs set an example on how an iconic leader and a role model shape the destiny of a company through financial success and growth (Elliot 7). He was an important part on the success of the company through demonstrating how a good leader acts as an example to the rest. The company believes in having leaders who set the pace for the rest to follow. This management style is applied in all spheres of the company. Such leaders stimulate the innovation of the employees, productivity and entire talent of the whole workforce in the company. The leader is selected on sound principles and personal characteristics. The leader has to be charismatic, talented, focused and goal oriented.
These leaders then work with teams on various aspects of the company such as design, research and product formulation. They organize teams harmoniously and make sure that all the functions are coordinated in synchrony to ensure that the project runs smoothly and is completed on time. These leaders work closely with the top management and the CEO who is the overall leaders of the company and acts as the role model to all employees.
The company is known all over for its “product-focused” philosophy and approach (Elliot 45). The company’s management is stringent on designing all functions from the budget, strategies, talent management to design of the organization around the product. This focus on the product ensures that all personnel focus on the strategic elements that are responsible for driving the company to success. This focus makes the employees prioritize and focus all efforts on the product. This creates a notion in all employees that the successful completion of the final product is dependent on the focus and synchrony of all employees in all stages.
The product focus ensures an increase in the cooperation, coordination, and integration of all teams and core functions. Singular focus on the product solely reduces confusion and subsequently minimizes wastes and losses. The employees are able to concentrate as they know explicitly what should be rewarded, measured, what is important and precisely what measures and defines success. The product focus cultures the feeling in employees that they are all in it together for the success of the product.
To ensure that employee focus is not dispersed, Apple Inc. releases only a handful of products to the market at a time. They do so with precise timing when they have enough statistics and information that the product will have the greatest impact on the market. With this approach, all employees fee that their efforts in the success of the product are recognized and that they are fulfilling Steve Job’s philosophy of changing the world (Elliot 34). A product focus reduces the chances of employees noticing office politics. Apple Inc. has employed close to 50,000 individuals and with such a big workforce, cohesion should be maintained at the workplace through a unifying and aspiring theme; product focus.
Apple Inc. has a strict top-down management style. Through this approach, the management values all employees on their work expertise as opposed to their work experience (Kandula 78). The rule in Apple Inc. is that managers are kings. Apple Inc. is not a democracy and majority of the major decisions are made by the senior management (Gillam 72). The top-down management style is adopted in all levels of the organization. This approach ensures that the decision making direction trickles down from the top management to the last employee in the organizational chain. This ensures a resultant decrease in interference of overhead functions as managers have ultimate authority and subsequently accountability. This attracts and retains managers in the company who prefer authority and control.
Apple Inc. produces new products in different fields frequently. These products for instance computers, telephones, music devices and software require expertise of the employees and the retail sales personnel in the different industries. In Apple Inc., the employee skill set and training rapidly changes at fast speeds as compared to all other tech firms. The company has a number of trainings available but there are no explicit attempts by the management to provide a formal learning plan for the employees. The management treats training and learning as career progression where all employees own their own learning and training of the ever changing products and services of the company.
The management has an expectation of self-reliance from the employees. The company’s retail force for example undergoes no formal training on how to sell the products. This practice is generally unconventional in retail environments but Apple Inc.’s management continues to use it. The notion within this management principle is a simple one; provision of sales targets, competencies and prescribed training weakens employee autonomy and self-reliance (Koontz and Heinz 61). This is a problem attributed to the fast changing, dynamic environment and Apple Inc.’s management avoids it at all costs. The management encourages employee ownership of learning and development as this continuous learning fosters development of new skills required for new projects and opportunities.
In Apple Inc. the predominant culture is secrecy. The company’s policy is to maintain all company secrets on all projects within the company by ensuring minimal leaks. This was a predominant from the days when Steve Jobs was the CEO. He never announced any future plans of the company or posted information on websites, newspapers and magazines. It was hard to schedule interviews with him and he seldom attended public interviews and shows unless very necessary (Gillam 58). In time, this secrecy became the culture at Apple.
In addition, Apple Inc. has a culture of team work. Team development is highly encouraged where individuals work in teams and with cohesion to complete all projects. Teams are usually forced to work in isolation to build this team spirit and cohesion. The competition between these teams is intense but serves to build cohesion where each team works in synchrony to ensure they emerge as the best.
Apple Inc. has over the years demonstrated strong market leadership. The company has grown in profit and value greatly as a result of their strong management and philosophies. The management style is dominant in all levels of management and employees are encouraged to work in autonomy to achieve fruitful result. Apple Inc. has demonstrated how successful a company can get with good management and philosophies and the company continues to be a role model to other companies.
Bove, Tony. Just Say No to Microsoft. San Francisco: No Starch Press, 2005. Print.
Elliot, Jay. Leading Apple with Steve Jobs: Management Lessons from a Controversial Genius.
Gillam, Scott. Steve Jobs: Apple Icon. Minneapolic, MN: ABDO Pub. Co, 2012. InternetHoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2012. Internet resource.
Koontz, Harold, and Heinz Weihrich. Essentials of Management. New Delhi [u.a.: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print. Internet resource.
Kandula, Srinivas R. Human Resource Management in Practice: With 300 Models, Techniques and Tools. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India, 2007. Print.