Apple’s Corporate Culture: An Analysis
Apple has been known for very high level of secrecy and pressure since its initial days. In those days it was an effective strategy that produced results. However, pressure is an inseparable part of any technology company’s business. Even Google which is known for its employee oriented culture cannot claim that it has been able to create an environment of no pressure. Apple, on the other hand has mainly been known for its intense focus on performance and productivity. In the days of Steve Jobs, high level of performance related pressure was considered a regular thing. Jobs believed in maintaining high level of secrecy and competition. While these things have proved effective at generating results, they are also known for their impact on employee morale. Employee welfare might not have been a very critical focus for Jobs. He was interested in hiring the best, paying them well and retaining them. However, creating an environment and culture that aimed to keep employees happy was not the central focus of the company. His focus instead was on keeping consumers as happy as possible. This sometimes meant extracting more from himself and his employees. He was himself a workaholic and expected others to stay dedicated. So, it was like a sleepless culture and environment, charged with energy and life all the time.
Innovation and Creativity
Things have started changing with Tim Cook. He has successfully taken Apple in a new direction. The focus of the company has shifted towards creating a more balanced environment that balances work with fun. The pressure is going to remain there because getting rid of it in a highly competitive environment is not possible. The entire technology industry is known to be highly competitive. However, two important things that have always known to remain a part of Apple’s organizational culture are innovation and creativity. These things are inseparable from its culture and will remain even in future. Product differentiation through quality has remained the principle focus of Apple. Its products are known to be much better in quality than its competitors. From I-Phone to I-Pad and Mac all these products are best known for their superior quality. However, such product innovation also requires a lot of creativity without which producing amazing and matchless products would not be possible. Now that the market for laptops and PCs has kept declining steadily, Apple’s dependence on iPhones has increased. However, it is planning to diversify into newer areas. Macbook Pro is a huge hit among Mac lovers. It has also helped Apple acquire some more space in the laptop and PC industry. Its position is still strong even at the fifth place in the industry. Given it manages prices and models better in future, it could even strengthen its position in the industry. The iPhone is an amazing product and gets more and more interesting with each new release.
The competition against Apple has kept increasing. Its products are made for the premium customers and that creates heavy pressure related to prices. Especially in the recessionary periods, the pressure grows even intense. This also leads to intense pressure in the work environment. While Tim Cook has done a lot to change the existing norms, the pressure will continue to be a part of the company work environment and culture. It is because Apple has to live up to its customers’ expectations and maintain the legacy Steven Paul Jobs has left behind. To maintain that tradition of technological innovation, Apple employees will need to put their best into their work. Tim Cook has taken some bold steps to move Apple into a new direction. Things like inclusion and diversity are now an important part of Apple’s HR agenda. The focus is now on creating a more inclusive organizational culture. In Jobs’ days employees worked in an environment of constant fear where they could be fired for the simplest reasons. These things have started changing under Cook who has vowed to establish a better culture that is more people friendly. Apple has matured as an organisation and so has its culture. Tell you something; you remove the intensity from Apple’s culture and you will be staring into a void. Here, intensity always matters as it did during the tenure of Steve Jobs. Without that there will be no flavour in its products or work culture.
The secrecy, pressure and competition will remain there in Apple’s environment because they are a part of any technology giant’s organizational culture. However, Apple’s focus on creating an employee friendly environment can bear fruitful results. If Apple has to remain innovative, its focus must be on keeping its employees motivated. That required a deep cultural challenge which Tim Cook has vowed to bring about. The old combative culture has now been replaced with a culture of collaboration and Cook wants this spirit in all people in his organization. If Apple is to retain its old fire that would not be possible without having a culture of collaboration and motivated employees. However, this also proves the inherent strength of Apple’s culture. Understanding its culture helps you understand some of its foundational strengths and why it continues to rule.