Apple Case Study The role of a successful leader in organisational change cannot be overestimated. Organisational culture is significant for each organisation and its successful operation, playing large role in whether or not a particular organisation has a happy, healthy and comfortable working environment. Organisational culture at any company has to be strong and well-established but able to be changed as well. So, in order to establish, maintain and improve the company’s culture timely a recognised leader has to be in the head.
The case study of Apple Inc. is a bright example of the great shift in the corporate culture and business success due to one leader who was able to implement the innovative image that totally changed the company. History of the Company Apple computer was founded on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne (O’Grady, 2009, 26) with the aim of selling personal computers. Incorporation of the company happened in 1977 when Wayne sold his shares to co-founders.
The vision of the founders towards their company was to bring people affordable personal computers. Starting with only a few people the founders tended to hire people that would share their visions. The first launches made by company were successful and Apple was developing, but the organisational culture could not be supposed as totally successful. Apple suffered from numerous misunderstandings over the production development, for example between Apple Lisa and Macintosh, involving Steve Jobs.
Finally, Jobs had a big struggle with John Sculley, who was a CEO, hired two years before; the board of directors did not vote for Jobs, he was deprived of management part, and willingly left the company in 1985. The fact that he was one of the primary co-founders of the company was strangely not in his favour. However, decision taken by the board was not perceived by Steve Jobs as a failure as he founded NextStep Computers and continued successful development of computers and software. Apple without Steve Jobs
The period of he company’s operation without Steve Jobs is widely recognised as a decline of Apple. It was a pioneering company in computer development yet it could not fulfil the primary vision of affordable computers for everyone, remaining the company, “relegated to a niche hobbyist computer manufacturer” (O’Grady, 2009, 33). This vision was not the one that was the background of the Apple’s foundation and organisational culture that united the co-founders and their first supporters.
Disability to become the leader on the market of computer technologies despite the fact that Apple was a creator of the first personal computer means that organisational culture was not perfect at the company. Strong leadership was lacked and consequently Apple was not able to introduce innovations that would be successful. Moreover, the fact that one of the founders of Apple was forced to leave the company implies that personal ambitions and striving for leadership was at the first place rather than reasonable team work over the improvement of the company.
In the beginning of the 1990s company suffered from a substantial lack of leadership that would lead the company out of the bankruptcy and misfortune. Apple expended money in large amount and uncontrollable way without visible effective result. The company lost the image of successful pioneer of computer technology, which was earned in the beginning. The misfortune can be explained by the lack of viable corporate culture that would help Apple to maintain the initial course of action.
Three consecutive CEOs were not able to create sustainable corporate culture, so the return of Steve Jobs in 1997 and the changes implemented became salvation for Apple. Return of the Leader In 1997 Apple bought Next, which was ruled by Steve Jobs, so he was hired again at the company that he founded. Years of Steve Jobs as a CEO of Apple are recognised as the most fruitful and successful for the company due to successes that followed. Moreover, he totally reorganised and refreshed Apple’s organisational culture that later was highly associated with his personality.
The change of organisational culture and hierarchy is compared by O’Grady, (2009, 34) as the shift “from tall to very flat”. The role of Steve Jobs at Apple is a role not of an ordinary leader but of a real cult leader who was highly respected and whose opinions were honoured at the company. However, the respect was not reached at once, as he came into the company that was close to bankruptcy. The first steps that were taken by Steve Jobs considered the culture of the company, which he believed to be the most important element, even primary to technological development. Think Different” was one of the first changes that initiated the following process of the company’s change (Goodson, 2012). Change of the Strategy Steve Jobs began from the very simple steps in reorganisation of the Apple’s organisational culture as he encouraged the employees to “Think Different” and express some innovative ideas. One of the smallest bricks of this new culture were “Think Different” banners and T-shirts worn by the staff, filling the company with the change (Goodson, 2012).
Despite the fact that company was close to bankruptcy and did not have new products, the primary accent of new leader was on elaboration of the strategy that would lead to further development of new technologies. Corporate culture enhancement that started with the first days of Jobs new appearance at Apple continued ever since, so it could not be reviewed as one-day change of culture management, but a prolonged process. Some of the actions taken by Steve Jobs in the beginning of his overtaking the company’s rule can seem to be very strange if not crazy.
As his main focus was on the corporate culture’s change, he did not treat the business issues with enough attention, raising questions of the staff (Merchant, 2010): 1) New vision of the company had to make several sacrifices in the form of shut-down of several departments, even profitable ones, which did not fit in the new system, created by Jobs. 2) Encouraged thinking together in order to stimulate discussions and eliminate “passive aggressiveness”, substituted by a free expression of the thoughts and opinions. ) Implementation of the “holistic vision” of the strategy, implying that new strategy would operate on all levels of the company’s performance. Much of the company’s culture is based on full responsibility for the job that is performed and the leadership that is taken. Weekly meetings, led by Jobs, were common at the company, “setting the beat of the company” (Lashinsky, 2011). Executives would meet with Jobs each Monday, reviewing each product of the company and suggesting improvements, even if the topic was the same each week.
The organisational strategy of Jobs was to find any possibility for improvement of the products and to set people, responsible for each item. Another side of responsibility is to make everyone responsible for the job performed: from the CEO to an ordinary janitor (Lashinsky, 2011). Jobs would not stand mistreatment of any job even if it was the simplest task, performed at the company, so he lead the staff with own example. Directly responsible individual or DRI is an element of the Apple’s jargon, reflecting the culture of the company.
There is no confusion at the company on the matter who is responsible for which task as the duties are strictly divided. The responsibility would mean even answering for the actions made not by the DRI directly but by his/her subordinate people; for example, in 2012 when Scott Forstall did not agree to sign the letter of apology for the Maps application errors, he had to leave the company. This confirms the strength and integrity of the company’s corporate culture, established by Jobs, so, the process has to be controlled and any mistake recognised by DRI.
Another significant element of the Apple’s corporate culture is simplicity, which is reflected in various aspects, for instance in the dress code, common at the company. It was Apple where casual Fridays were first implemented and employees are able to dress casually. Steve Jobs himself was adherent of total simplicity, wearing ordinary T-shirts, jeans, and often walking barefoot at the premises (O’Grady, 2009, 34); it is obvious that the image of the CEO discouraged the staff from excessive showing off and stimulated to be focused on work rather than on personal appearance.
This is a small but a very significant element that reflects the changes in culture, implemented by Jobs. Innovation as a Key Element of the Culture Apple under the rule of Steve Jobs became the company that immediately responded to the changes in the economics and on the market of electronics, having powerful marketing orientation (Schein, 2010, 230). Current demand of consumers is also a driving force of the company’s development and innovation. Corporate culture is claimed to fill every stage of development nd every process that is held at Apple and influencing the overall success of the company (Moreland, 2011). This happened with the help of Steve Jobs and his remarkable rule of innovation at the company. Each of the innovative devices, such as iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, produced by Apple reflect the influence of the company’s culture, encouraging innovation in every process. Moreover, the gadgets fulfil the objective not only of designing novelty and attractiveness but also user-friendliness and easy interface, making them extremely popular around the world.
Creation of the Culture that Makes Addicted The presence of developed organisational culture is a feature of many software and Internet technologies companies, such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and the others, but the Apple’s culture is the one that has addictiveness for employees. Emotional attachment to the company and work is the feature that is common for the entire staff of Apple. Attachment to the departed Steve Jobs, when he was a CEO, was also a characterising feature of this leader, who is described as open and intimidating at the same time (Elliot, 2012).
Steve Jobs was assured that employees should be encouraged to share all of the ideas and doubts with the leaders and especially with the CEO. This created the culture of open sharing of the thoughts and resulting success. Employees are addicted to the job that is performed at Apple and it is encouraged by the following elements of the Apple’s culture (Bhattacharyya, 2010, 71): 1) Work hard, play hard: dedication of all forces to development. 2) Run your own show: hierarchy is not common at the company. 3) Nurturing diversity: promotion of innovation. ) Flexible compensation and benefits: free choice of employees. 5) Career opportunities and employment security: human resources policies have the goal to attract skilful staff. 6) Culture of secrecy: secrecy about the developments and other work information is maintained by the entire staff. The combination of these elements creates the corporate culture that unites the company and reflects the vision, established by Steve Jobs. Moreover, he maintained good personal relations with his team, organising parties and other events for enhancement of communication (Maltz et al, 2012). The Role of the Leader
Steve Jobs alone would not be able to create an empire that is successful and popular around the world. If the whole company would be based only on his personality, it would face misfortune the next day after Jobs departed. It was clever enough to assign a new CEO Tim Cook who is still in charge of the company, so Apple would adjust to new leadership but the corporate culture would remain on the same high level under the continuing supervision of Steve Jobs. Leadership of the corporate culture means not only personal vision and intelligence but also ability to stimulate the team (Kotter, 2012).
It is obvious that presence of a strong leader is the major factor in successful organisational culture, but it is also the impact made by this leader on the company that is important. Steve Jobs himself was a talented technician who was interested in electronics from the childhood, but all of the gadgets, which have been developed by Apple, were not created by him. However, his role is crucial in the development of each product, as he took part in the projects and inspired the employees.
He did not create the electronics directly, but he was responsible for the corporate culture that encouraged talent and vision in each individual. Inspiration of innovation and development was direct responsibility of the leader and this role was performed with overwhelming success. Finally, the changes implemented by Steve Jobs at Apple after he returned to the company can be easily judged from the successes that accompany Apple since then. Effective leadership of the organisational culture primary to technologic success led to improvement of both sides of business.
The personality of leader, presented by Steve Jobs, confirms that one person in charge of the changes can make successful the corporate culture and the whole company. References Bhattacharyya, D. K. , 2010, Cross-Cultural Management: Text And Cases, PHI Learning Pvt. Elliot, J. , 2012, Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius, John Wiley ; Sons, Goodson, S, 2012, How Do You Change Your Company’s Culture? Spark A Movement, Forbes, Mar. 25, 2012 Kotter, J. P. , 2012, Accelerate! , Harvard Business Review, Nov. 2012 Lashinsky, A. 2011, How Apple works: Inside the world’s biggest startup, CNN Money, Aug. 25, 2011 Maltz A. C. , Shenhar, A. J. , Dvir, D. , Poli, M. , 2012 Integrating Success Scorecards Across Corporate Organizational Levels, The Open Business Journal, 2012, 5, 8-19 Merchant, N. , 2010, Apple’s Startup Culture, Bloomberg Businesswerk, June 14, 2010 Moreland, J. , 2011, Steve Jobs, Apple, And The Importance Of Company Culture, Fast Company, Nov. 2, 2011 O’Grady, J. D. , 2009, Apple Inc, ABC-CLIO Schein, E. H. , 2010, Organizational Culture and Leadership, John Wiley ; Sons,