Unit VI: Business Changes in Apple Inc.

For the past few years, many companies have reported business changes due to industrial innovation. Some of the changes aimed to enhance employees’ performance and workflow, foster customer satisfaction, and improve the firm’s financial position. An example of these corporations is Apple Inc., which portrays progressive organizational and cultural shifts under Tim Cook’s leadership. Since his appointment, Cook has been adopting dynamic and incremental changes with the primary purpose of fulfilling Apple’s corporate vision and mission. Recent operational shifts in Apple Inc’s management style, secrecy policies, and organizational culture have positively affected its productivity and profitability in the quaternary industry.

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Initially, Apple utilized centralized management. Under this leadership system, top leadership made corporate decisions, and autonomy was not promoted in the firm. Steve Jobs, the company’s then-CEO, made critical decisions (Yarow, 2013). Each activity, including production in various departments, required Job’s approval. Although centralized management facilitated quicker decision-making in the corporation, the approach limited productivity among workers.  

Today, Apple’s management has adopted a decentralized type of organizational structure. Duties are delegated among senior employees, who are also in charge of decision-making in their respective departments. For instance, Doug Field works on Apple’s self-driving car program, and he is responsible for overseeing daily operations and making strategic plans (Eadicicco, 2019). The organizational shift promotes ease in departmental decision-making because of reduced bureaucracy in the firm. However, it is also subject to significant drawbacks, such as delays, especially on issues that require approval from the CEO.  

The company’s organizational change is also exhibited in its employment structure and has facilitated labor optimization. Delegation of duties to middle managers has made it easier for Apple to monitor an underutilized workforce. For instance, the management identified 200 underutilized human resources in the self-driving car program (Eadicicco, 2019). In 2019, the company restructured its units by moving these workers to projects that support machine learning in an effort to optimize labor and create a balance of human resources in all segments (Eadicicco, 2019). According to the management’s reports, the remaining workforce in the self-driving car team is capable of handling independent systems in the firm (Eadicicco, 2019). The approach has successfully promoted productivity and reduced operational costs in the company.

The company also exhibits changes in its organizational culture. Apple has been operating in a culture of secrecy from its inception. In the past, the corporation’s policies emphasized the need for employees to conceal the firm’s proprietary information to retain a competitive advantage in the tech industry (Bort, 2017). For instance, workers were prohibited from sharing information regarding ongoing projects with outsiders, including staff in other departments. Such an approach was the leading cause of major challenges that Apple experienced in 2015 when a networking team quit working in the establishment following the management’s implementation of the bulletproof network (Bort, 2017). Although the firm benefitted from such policies, they hindered productivity among workers.

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In recent times, Apple’s management has utilized a collaborative approach. Employees from different units, software, and hardware can cooperate on diverse projects (Yarow, 2013). Bort (2017) avers that the trend has mostly been reported in the artificial intelligence (AI) team, an aspect that facilitates collaborative efforts among AI workers and academia, resulting in the publication of essential research papers. Unlike Steve Jobs, Tim Cook appears to implement a less tight-lipped style among the company’s staff. Although the current management promotes cooperative efforts among employees, it remains vigilant about Apple’s intellectual property confidentiality.

Apple’s cultural shift has been successful in promoting employee recruitment and retention. As mentioned earlier, the company experienced a shortage of human resources due to the implementation of strict secrecy policies. Currently, the firm has made some of the best hires in the tech industry. For instance, Doug Field rejoined the corporation in August 2018 after working with Tesla for five years (Eabicicco, 2019). With his experience in the automotive industry, Field is expected to oversee and facilitate the success of Apple’s self-driving car program. The corporation is also expected to benefit from services offered by Giannandrea, a digital assistant who incorporates AI into Google’s products and is tasked with managing Siri in Apple (Eadicicco, 2019). His past exposure to artificial intelligence projects is expected to boost performance in the unit and facilitate continuous incorporation of the virtual assistant in the brand’s products. Therefore, the cultural change has enhanced the company’s ability to recruit highly competent staff.

Apple has undergone dynamic organizational and cultural changes in the past few years, affecting its industry’s productivity and profitability. The shifts are exhibited in the company’s approach to decision-making and secrecy policies that govern the workers’ code of conduct. Unlike before, Apple’s leadership is more open to collaborative efforts between departmental teams. The firm also utilizes a decentralized style of management. The benefits the company enjoys from these changes include high employee retention, labor optimization, and reduced direct costs.

 

References

Bort, J. (2017, January 13). How Apple’s culture of secrecy wears down its top developers. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/how-apples-culture-of-secrecy-wears-down-its-top-developers-2017-1?IR=T

Eadicicco, L. (2019, February 19). Apple has made some big changes in recent months – Here’s a look at the top new hires and moves you might have missed (AAPL). Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.pulse.com.gh/bi/tech/apple-has-made-some-big-changes-in-recent-months-heres-a-look-at-the-top-new-hires/n8hvt2q

Yarow, J. (2013, May 1). Apple’s new organizational structure could help it move faster. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/apples-new-organizational-structure-could-help-it-move-faster-2013-5?IR=T

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