An Analysis of the Culture of Apple Inc
By investigate the corporate culture of the Apple Inc, a US-based consumer Electronics Company which creates, design, produce, path-breaking and world-changing electronic products and systems, including Macintosh line of computers, iPhone, Ipad and OS X operation system. The Apple store also provides hardware and software product for customers around the world. Established since 1976, Apple Inc. has become the largest technology computer in the world according to Apple’s (2011) website.
The goals of Apple Inc. re all aim to provide satisfaction of customers by reaching their high expectation to create product that exactly suitable for what they searching for. Apple Inc. is benefit from this as they gain profits from creating customer loyalty. At the same time, producing environmentally packaging of products to reduce the waste is how they take responsibility for public interests. Schein (1999) stated that cultures are patterns of interacting elements; if we don’t have a way of deciphering the patterns then we may not understand the cultures at all. By understanding Apple Inc. rganization culture through a particular organization practice, we can match up the pieces of puzzle of culture in Apple Inc.
These may also assist to reveal the successful reasons of why Apple Inc. have the most competitive advantages among the industry as they adopt the most comprehensive and proper cultural value in the company. A corporate culture takes years to evolve and extends to every business activity by influencing employees’ perceptions, behavior, and work attitudes. When a particular corporate culture is formed, it is difficult to change. Lal, 1995)
Apple Inc. successfully created a unique culture as represented innovation and legendary electronic garget products and systems in public eyes. Inside the company, Apple Inc. is a learning organization that continuous improvement and innovation is their business goals. Leading by a very character leader, Steve Jobs, the corporate culture of Apple Inc. are mainly influence by this chairman. He is a relentless perfectionist to create products attract people in different culture no matter what perception they have.
Apparently, the leader of Apple dominates the ideas of every major decision and influencing ideas of products, systems and operations. A strong leadership is dominating the whole culture in Apple. As every culture start from the assumptions of creator in a corporation, Apparently, paying attention to their corporate culture must through Steve Jobs, the soul of Apple Inc. as ideas related to their highly regard product generated from him. Analyze a particular practice within Apple Inc. by investigating on how they adopt Schein culture to make culture easily visible by the theoretical framework.
Introduction of the particular practice In the summer of 2008, Apple launched the first generation of iPhone. An e-mail system also debuted which is called MobileMe had been debuted at the same time. Unfortunately, this system is not satisfied by the users as it failed at providing flawless synchronization features and always lost e-mails which are fatal weaknesses. Steve Jobs immediately summoned and blasted shortly after the launching party. According to (Adam, 2011), Steve job scolded the MobileMe team, “You’ve tarnished Apple’s reputation,” he told them. “You should hate each other for having let each other down.
Most members in MobileMe later on dismissed and the other change MobileMe according to the demand of Steve. Later on, apple adjusted MobileMe and launch again but this system unable to attract customers. This can define Apple’s Inc. accountability is strictly enforced, decisions are swift, and communication is articulated clearly from the top. Currently, the MobileMe no longer accept new users and replaced by iCloud starting from 2011. The reasons for using this theoretical framework The reasons of adopting Schein framework focus on this case because Apple is a company has strong basic assumption inside its corporate values.
And the artifacts are linking with beliefs and values as shown in this practice. In Schein culture, this can define more widely rather than other cultural framework. By the three levels, these can understand deeper culture inside Apple Inc. Schein also focuses on more and deeper levels in culture but not just stop in the surface. Schein (1990) (p. 111) stated that culture is developed as an organization learns to cope with the dual problems of external adaptation and internal integration. As MobileMe was a problem for Apple Inc. to handle about, using Schein is more proper.
Also, the investigating depth can be deeper than Myers and Hofstede culture. Using Schein culture in this case instead of Hofstede is mainly because it is a case involve only American culture as Apple is a American-based company but not involve any cross-culture. Furthermore, Hofstede are mainly use to apply on cases concern mergers and acquisitions between different countries. On the other hand, Handy culture can also apply on this practice as Handy culture focusing on problem solving and concerning expertise. Theoretical framework to use in Apple Inc .
Assessing how Steve Jobs response to MobileMe disaster can give a glance on how Apple actually operates based on their unique corporate culture. To understand corporate culture in Schein approach, culture can analyzed in three levels, which is artifacts, espoused values and basic assumptions. Schein (2010) stated that artifacts are the phenomena that you can see, hear and feel when encounter an unfamiliar culture. Every time when Apple Inc. launched a new product, the staff in Apple store will made the whole atmosphere in the store like happening a carnival.
The climate there encourage customers to feel the value lies in Apple by having dynamic environment, friendly staffs, showrooms that having lots of displays. This is how American culture, foster innovation, openness and modern. In this case, Apple just launched the regrettable MobileMe. Shortly after the failure of launching, this project stopped immediately. This incident definitely shown how this organization works, Steve fully have power to decide the whole company. When failure occurs, the decision comes up quickly and ruthless as Apple is not a company that can tolerate shortage of their products.
Apple Inc. always creating the choreographed products impresses the whole world. Visible product like mac computer and iPhones are observable and representing high-technology and user-friendly of Apple’s brand image in public’s eyes through a very remarkable launching strategies and process. According to Deal and Kennedy (1982), having a strong corporate culture like this can be the driving force behind continuing success in American business. The style of this company in operating, launching new products, creating a new products, response to market are always making as quick as they can.
As MobileMe is a failure, like Apple’s reaction to other issue, Apple dismisses the team immediately and change the system to a further better system. Clearly, Apple makes decision and changes immediately are what public can observe in this practice. In the headquarters in Apple, unlike Google, staffs in Apple are dress in properly. This represented the image of this 35 years old mature company is a highly develop by having a grownup atmosphere. Moreover, Apple Inc. has a remarkable symbol, alike a bite of apple as a logo to represent the company.
Symbols are objects, acts, relationships or linguistic formations that stand for a multiplicity of meanings, evoke emotions and impel men to action. (Cohen, 1976) The logo of Apple can represent for the whole company and their high tech and pop-culture image. Customers can notice Apple Inc. by only a glance at the logo when the time passes by, which makes an artifact as a symbol to communicate the meanings of Apple Inc. In order to obtain more understanding of the culture in Apple Inc. , moving to the next level in Schein culture, espoused beliefs and values, might be the way.
When Steve facing MobileMe crisis, as a highly influencing leader, the staff obeying what Steve’s judgments and take action as what he demand. At this moment, staff might not yet have shared knowledge to handle the issue and they will not challenge the leader in hierarchy level. Members in MobileMe team only following Steve’s principal no matter it is a right or wrong decision. A value that making quick response is right and commit to provide high quality product, this soon become the shared values in belief. They assumed the leader’s decision is always accountable based on previous history.
The strong leadership of Steve jobs motivates the whole company to create the same culture and value and it is difficult to change. This can be proved when Steve decision of the crisis is right. His assumption will soon becoming the whole organization assumption, this also represent important values in the culture. As the name Steve Jobs nearly equals to Apple Inc. in majority public eyes, he is the instrumental factor of the successful of this company by providing ultimate idea and innovation corporate culture in Apple.
Because Steve knows the staffs in Apple are eager to create cool, innovative electronic product instead of just being a normal computer company. Making decisions according to the willing of people can always lead to success. If leader don’t have sufficient commitment, the company will not have big and strong goals in order to complete targets and solving problems. It is essential to manifest as a learning organization. Moving down to the deepest level stated as basic assumption. Indeed, understanding basic assumption of Apple can provide meaning and stability to individuals or roups which can bring benefits to the whole company.
The central organization value in Apple Inc. is assumed as ultimate innovation and creativity based on latest technology invention. They are the spirits and factors that empower the operation in Apple. Creativity always linked with Apple Inc. and its founder. Steve has powerful influence in the company at any levels by creating attractive products through technology orientation. Although MobileMe finally did not become a successful product, this will not scared Apple to give up on creating better products and continue being creative.
By sharing ideas within the company, innovation can be stated as the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively (Chesbrough et al. , 2006) Having unlimited fresh ideas such as iPhone and MobileMe in areas of electronic gadgets and systems, makes Apple become one of the company deserves to describe as innovative as Apple generate more than one billion a year through innovation. These maintain the customer loyalty at the same time by linking emotional bonds between customers and their product when customers experience Apple’s product.
On the other hand, it is assumed that quick response to everything Apple came across is their basic value. MobileMe practice indicates how quick Apple Inc. able to response. Moreover, take decision and made movement immediately when identifying the problems. Staff will also believe in their leader moves if the crisis happened again and successfully solve later. Apple is assumed that their products are successful as taken for granted. As Apple not tends to accept any failure in products, they always provide the best experience for customers internally and externally.
Influencing by the US culture, Apple always assigns responsibility for individual project to individual group. As individual behavior is taken for grant among company in US , Apple For example, in this failure of MobileMe, only the team in MobileMe dismissed and take the fully responsibility of this crisis. Taking responsibility of their own work can ensure proper outcome is putted on the right individuals, this can provide good morale inside a corporation. Learning organization As a learning organization, describe by Mark Easterby-Smith (2003) ,it is the development in thinking and actions of people belonging to or working with, rganizations, which then becomes institutionalizes into organizational properties.
In the past years, Steven had been a leader to bring the whole company came across several problems. For example, despite MobileMe system, apple had been created digital cameras, speakers and portable CD players which presented an unfavorable outcome. To face with rise and fall in the company’s history, always acting as a learning organization can stronger the company’s competitive advantages and innovate the staff all the time.
Furthermore, active problem solving can lead to learning when come across problem as the company can learn mainly from the process which is actually more important than the outcome itself. Learning from process can also generate more new ideas which is important for a company like Apple rely on creativity. Get feedback and reflect are ways to enhance the learning. Getting feedback from Steve can provide answers and effective ideas to handle the current crisis. The MobileMe’s member later on follow the demand from Steve to adjust this system, this action represented that they might having a reflection after the crisis happened.
Indeed, reflection is essential for a group to identify the advantages and weaknesses as this can prevent the problems happening again in the future. To success in organizational learning, having appropriate and strong leadership is essential. When learning is become one of the main consideration, this company will be motivate by this aim and this can lead this company to the way of continuous learning. Steve, the CEO of Apple, always provide strong leadership no matter in operation or many other areas although 90% of staff have never met Steve Jobs.
On the other hand, innovation is also part of learning, not just in creating product but also the process. Answering and receive feedback from customers are examples. Innovation can be any activity inside the business. As the external environment is keep changing, Apple innovate not just the IT industry, but also music, cellphone, movie and computing as they tends to changing the world by filling it with Apple user-oriented products. The most important point of innovate is always about improving customer experience by providing follow-up version of their new version.
Applying Handy framework on Apple Inc. According to Handy (2009), the organization is a network of loosely-linked commando units, each unit being largely self-contained but with a specific responsibility within an overall strategy. Same as Apple Inc. , giving their individual group of working unit have their own responsibility on their currently project. To successful in task culture, always work as a group and continually reassembled anytime is the main factors in corporate culture.
MobileMe is a problem for Apple Inc. o solve, by using task culture, can solve the problem effectively as this culture recognizes only expertise in their base of power. Alike Apple make decision on the highest level of management in their company, they adopting task culture in their operation. Apple summons the MobileMe group as they are highly expertise to solve the problem and provide new demands and resources for them to do it are a task culture example. Moreover, Apple is highly relying only on experts as they have a group called Top 100. This group will have a meeting with Steve every year to discuss about strategies in a secret location.
Apple’s innovation have high possibility to generate mostly from this group and providing a chance for team members share their ideas in order to take the next strategic steps. Steve Jobs are in charge of this company, despite he is one of the founder of Apple, the main reason is because he is the best in this industry to create most inspiring products. Later on, Steve choose to dismiss the team immediately is a decision which leads to the minimal consequences. Conclusion To conclude, Apple Inc. has a very strong US culture as a company doing business around the world. By a character leader, Steve Jobs, taking Apple Inc. o another level by bring customer experience and atmosphere to trust the company products every single time.
Though investigation about a case related to an Apple Inc. ’s failure about an e-mail system called MobileMe. In addition, using Schein culture to get more understanding in this company is a better way to get deeper the corporate culture of this complex company. In artifacts which including atmosphere of the shop, actual products, operation, uniform and symbols. By understanding the second level which is espoused beliefs and values, can help further knowledge about the company’s assumptions when making decisions.
Those include strong leadership and staff commitment with the corporation. Moving down to the basic assumption, according to Schein, is the most important ideas in this cultural framework. In Apple, Creativity and innovation had always been their fundamental values and ultimate aim to achieve. Moreover, quick response, quality and user-friendly product and appreciate individual behavior are include in Apple’s basic assumption. Furthermore, look down to learning organization can provide a blue print of how Apple Inc. becoming a continuous learning corporate in order to understand their ways to success.
As a result, many crisis and problems can be solved as Apple work as a learning organization. They will not let themselves fall into the same trap again. Last but not least, using handy culture as a different angle to view Apple’s culture is another way to get closer to the culture of this corporation. According to Raymond Williams (1983), culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language. This indicates culture is not so easy to be understanding and express. By another framework, we can get slightly closer to what truly lies behind the corporate. Recommendations
Apple Inc. had always been criticized about lack of transparency about their product, internal operations and supply chain. Their reputation is always secretive. Apple Inc. can increase their transparency but not totally revealing the whole operation and secrets to the public. This can provide a better image for Apple not just for their innovated product but also shown this corporate is willing to let the public know more about them. Moreover, the leave of Steve jobs may redirect Apple to another way as he passed away at 2011. Because some people believe that without Steve, the magic of Apple will lost.
Although this might need years to know the answer of Apple can success or not. As Apple is a mature company for over 35 years, this company has high possibility to survive in the high competitive electronic garget industry. Also, Apple should have the road-map about the product for a few years so it would not be a problem. On the other hand, this might only affect Apple to provide less creative product and slower their speed of launching new product instead of facing total failure in the future. The challenges for the new CEO, Tim Cook, is keeping innovation image and ulfill the customers expectation in order to maintain the original culture values.
Because continue the current culture can ensure the profitability and successful of the company. Because Steve always works as the main characters involve the whole culture in Apple, it is a challenge for Apple to adopt this major loss and realizing a new era. After Steve Jobs, the basic value of culture will not have major change. But Apple need to maintain its advantages by creative, grow and focus on new products will be a challenge for their product designing team without Steve’s major ideas.