From one perspective, Apple's world could not be rosier and its future shinier. Rising from the rubble of a disintegrating company in 1997, Apple has reached the pinnacle of success in 15 short years. With a market capitalization of over $500 billion, Apple is amongst the most valuable and highly profitable companies in the world. Its remarkable success lies in the company's ability to create truly innovative products with vast customer appeal.
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Apple flouts the conventional wisdom of the consumer electronics industry, which emphasizes low cost, "me-too" products, and a continuously shortened product life. Instead, Apple has opted for constant and discrete product innovation, resulting in fanatic consumer loyalty and a high level of profitability. There’s no question the business world has changed because of Apple. A look at the core cultural shifts that came as a result of Steve Jobs's leadership do demonstrate this change. Apple’s culture has invaded the business world and had a powerful impact.
As a supremely successful company that has risen above strife to become a market leader, competitors look to Apple for inspiration, adopting its practices to improve their own companies. Another reason so many follow Apple’s example is because there are a slew of Apple “graduates,” who have taken its culture and strategies to new companies. Apple’s innovation, and its eventual success, led to its playbook being adopted by myriad other corporations--and for good reason. Apple’s transition from a computer to a consumer electronics company is unprecedented—and hard to replicate.
Although many can only speculate about why Apple succeeded so well, they tend to credit Steve Jobs’ remarkable leadership abilities, Apple’s highly skilled employees, and its strong corporate culture. Apple’s culture is as distinct as its products are groundbreaking. That’s no accident; one leads to the other. It’s evident in every aspect of the company, every interaction with every employee from executive management to the salespeople in its renowned Apple stores. If Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial spirit, employee ownership, and casual style changed corporate America, Apple took all that one giant step further.
Apple’s culture is like a genetic mutation of the corporate America genome. A mutation that should be studied and replicated wherever possible. Culture Isn’t An Accident Apple works at culture. The Apple culture didn’t happen by osmosis; it was and is engineered by design. The lesson here is that culture matters – forget this and all other efforts with regard to talent initiatives will be dysfunctional, if not lost altogether. Don’t allow your culture to evolve by default, create it by design.
The first step in cultural design is to be very, very careful who you let through the front door. People, their traits, attitudes, and work ethic (or lack thereof) are contagions. This can be positive or negative – the choice is yours. The old saying, “talent begets talent” is true, but talent that aligns with culture will produce better results than talent that does not. Through this essay, we shall go through the main features of Apple’s culture, how it has been influenced by Steve Jobs, how it is like after Steve Jobs and what are its bad sides.