Apple Management Style

Apple Management Style




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Apple Management Style

Every company and organization has a specific purpose that explains its existence. In world of stiff competition and a turbulent business environment every organization that wants and intends to remain economically viable must focus on attaining organizational effectiveness. The business world is full of examples of companies whose growth has been stifled by threats and opportunities that have been occasioned by uncertainties and changes in the business environment. Management style is one of the greatest determinants of organizational management. It can be defined as the way an organization is is a manner in which a manager deals with people at work and how he exercises authority over subordinates in order to achieve organizational goals (Quang, 2002).

Good and effective management style should be able to foster cooperation between workers with each other and with the management, increase commitment to the organization and enhance work coordination (Chen, 1995). This will enable the company to achieve agreed and predetermined organizational goals. The management style applied at Apple is what we may describe as entrepreneurial and visionary management styles. Apple was the idea of one man, Steve Jobs and his friend Steve Wozniak, in the basement of Steve jobs’ home in the Silicon Valley. The result of their visionary and entrepreneurial minds have caused a tremendous change in how we use computer, listen to music and talk using mobile phones.

From its inception Apple has used visionary and innovative and visionary system of management beginning with the first Apple computer in 1976, there have been other innovative products developed, one at a time. In 2001 Apple unveiled an iPod, 2007 and iPhone and later in 2010 an iPad. All of these products have come after a considerable amount of time has passed between but all of them have been major successes ( Lanshisky, Inc,2012) though it must be reminded that Steve jobs the founder of Apple was largely authoritative whereby being the brain of the company he made some decisions without consultation and input of oters.For instance as much as the mac computers were profitable there was a great tiff between Steve Jobs and his board of directors that led to his ouster in 1983 (Lashinsky,2012). This styles of leadership though criticized by many it has its advantages as described by Mintzberg (1979).it can be used when there is limited time for decision making and it can also be used when other employees don’t really understand the vision of the leader for the company thus it is only fair that the vision bearer charts the way for others to follow. Authoritative style of management under Steve Jobs without doubt served Apple especially when developing the iPhone and the iPad, complex decisions that needed quick decisions to be carefully in order to catch up on the ground lost to their main rivals Microsoft. The style of leadership hasn’t remained the same though at Apple with the demise of Steve in 2011and the subsequent appointment of Tim Cook as the new chief executive (Lashinsky, 2012). Though Tim has a wealth of experience gained form years of serving at Apple and other computer companies such as IBM, it has always been smooth sailing for instance the launch of iPhone 5 in 2012 for sell in 22 countries was described to have failed in customer experience.

The other shift in management that has taken place at Apple since its inception is the focus on sales and dominating and enhancing the supply or in other words the focus from innovation as the main driving factor to profit and the entrepreneurial aspect of the organization. As their values state as found on their website (Lashinsky, 2012)

For instance in the 1990s almost all manufacturers of personal computers were using an operating system developed by collaboration between Intel and Microsoft but Apple using Steve Jobs strategic view developed an integrated and internal approach developed a user interface and operating system that was unique and different from the one developed by Microsoft and Intel (Isaacson,2011).The reason for this shift could be that it is because of the appointment of Tim Cook, who was formally in charge of sales and managing the supply chain at Apple (Lanshinsky,2012).

  • We believe in saying not to thousands of projects so that we only focus on what really matters for us
  • We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution
  • We don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company

The effectiveness of an organization and the style of management can be ascertained by looking at goals and objectives of that organization, of the objectives are being made then by all accounts that organization is well managed. With its innovative products Apple has established itself as a market leader .In his first quarter Tim Cooks oversaw a net profit of $ 6.6 billion (Lashinsky, 2012).

The loss of a founder of any company can be disastrous and problematic both in terms of financially and in terms of moral but at Apple the impact wasn’t as big after the demise of Steve Jobs. Tim Cook the man who was appointed to take over as CEO had been at apple as the head of sales and operations worldwide (Lashinsky, 2012) Steve had also served before at other computer manufacturing companies such as IBM.Besides the experience, Apple has a supporting cast of vice presidents who are helping Tim in day to day running of the company. The $ 6.6 billion net profit in the first quarter of 2012 after Steve’s death should also indicate that the transition has been seamless.

The use of a spokesperson can have a major impact on a company especially in terms of it performs on the stock exchange. Spokespersons are the mouth piece of an organizational and hence due care needs to be taken to ensure that the right information and only that is what is being released.

The iPhone5 marketing and communicating strategy was so good that it ended up overpromising. When it was launched in 2012 and released on the market in 22 countries many people thought and came to the conclusion that it had underperformed and failed in terms of customer satisfaction. Contrary to the expectations of most the iPhone 5 was only a small improvement on the iPhone4 (Lashinsky, 2012).This brings into sharp focus the role of the communication team in passing information about the products of the company. The problem with overpromising and under delivering is that the stocks the stocks fall as a result and that hurts and negatively affects a company’s financial state. Apple has not always got it right on the choice and use of vendors, there have been human rights issues to do with some of their suppliers and manufactures especially in China. Apple’s largest assembling partner, Foxconn has been accused of having poor working conditions (Cho, 2012).The have been reported cases of workers some of whom are below the age of 18 being overworked, more than 10 hours and this has led to some workers committing suicide. The other issue to do with the supply chain is that although apple has many suppliers across the world it has been found that the suppliers do not have the capacity to meet the current market demand for products. In fact Samsung the largest LCD screen supplier of Apple is about to stop this partnership because it no longer sees the partnership as beneficial (Cho, 2012).

Lean technique is one idea that I would implement at Apple that would have a great impact on both customers and employees. Lean is a way of working that identifies wastage and improves service delivery. There are five core principles of Lean, based on assumptions that every organization operates on processes (Womack & Jones, 1996)

Lean is used in situations where fast results are needed and there is limited focuses on reduction of wastage, process, and customer. I would apply lean techniques at Apple and that will not be limited to manufacturing but in all sectors of the value chain that is because it enhances transparency and sharing of skills so that employees can also learn and develop.

  • Identify who the real customer is and the value they require
  • Identify the value chain of each product and eliminate the waste
  • Ensure smooth and continuous flow of the product
    • Introduce pull between steps where continuous and smooth flow is impossible
    • Manage towards perfection so that activities that do not add value can be removed from the value chain.

Apple will be able to cope with this change in approach and way of doing things because it has gone through so many changes and transitions within its lifetime and I trust that implementing the lean technique can work. The will be need for change in the management structure though from a bureaucratic system to a more decentralized where various departments within the value chain can be empowered to implement lean.

In conclusion, despite of the few teething challenges that are prevalent in the business world Apple still remains one of the most profitable and innovative company worldwide whose humble beginning, in a basement will inspire and challenge many people for year to come.


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Lashinsky, A. (2012). Inside Apple: How America’s most admired-and secretive-company really

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Mintzberg, H. (1979). The structuring of organizations: A synthesis of the research. Englewood

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Quang, T. (2002) ‘Conflict Management in Joint Ventures’, Transitions, 38 (122)

Womack, J. and Jones, D. (2005) Lean Consumption, Harvard Business Review