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An Analysis of Apple’s Organizational Culture

Apple’s Corporate Culture: An Analysis

Apple has been known for a very high level of confidentiality and pressure since its initial days. In those days it was an effective strategy that produced mindblowing results. However, the 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 a pressure-free environment. Apple, on the other hand, has mainly been known for its intense focus on performance and productivity. In the days of Steve Jobs, a high level of performance-related pressure was considered something regular. Jobs believed in maintaining a very high level of secrecy and competition.

While these things have proved effective at generating results, often people defined Apple’s culture as aggressive and also toxic. Jobs was known for his relentless pursuit of perfection. He was interested in hiring the best, paying them well, and retaining them. In a famous interview, he noted that if you want your best talent to stay with you, then you must let them make important decisions. Apple also acquired many notable achievements and Jobs is known to have hired many of the smartest minds in the industry. Jobs was also renowned for his penetrating focus and that brought aggressive growth for his company. This sometimes also meant extracting more from himself and his employees. He was himself a workaholic and expected others to stay dedicated. It was a sleepless culture and environment, that was aggressive, confident, sharp, penetrative, high-energy as well as fast-moving and innovative.

Innovation and Creativity

Things have changed a lot since then and Tim Cook’s focus in terms of HR is more on creating satisfaction for employees. In his time, everyone is just free to be himself at Apple. This may look in sharp contrast from the Apple culture that Steve jobs had created. However, Apple still has a very fast-moving, innovative, cutting edge, and confident culture and environment with a growing focus on employees’ personal satisfaction and welfare. 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 Apple’s culture and will remain so in the future.

Apple has differentiated itself from others in terms of culture and organizational environment. Product quality and customer experience have remained the company’s focus in terms of business. From I-Phone to I-Pad and Mac, all these products are best known for their superior quality. However, to produce such amazing products, a company needs to have an environment and culture of innovation. Now that the market for laptops and PCs has kept declining steadily, Apple’s dependence on the iPhone has grown. However, the company has continued to innovate Mac to offer its customers more power for productivity. Apart from that, the company has also introduced a nice range of services that now bring an impressive share of the company’s revenue each year. Apple’s market cap has grown sharply in the last two years and reached $2.13 Trillion. At the root of all these things is a highly charged culture, that values diversity as well as individuality and that strives to keep its people performing at their best.

Intense Pressure

Apple has experienced a very sharp rise in competition over the years. Once
IBM used to be a leading competitor for Apple’s Mac. Now, from Samsung to
Huawei and several more contenders have appeared wrestling for space in the
smartphone market. Apple products are made for premium customers. The
company has always maintained a sharp focus on customer experience since that
is what differentiates Apple from others. However, the pressure related to
performance and innovation is also intense. While Tim Cook may have relaxed the
norms a lot, pressure continues to be a part of the company’s work environment
and culture. It is because Apple cannot deliver less than the customers’
expectations and to maintain its standards related to product performance and
quality, it cannot remove the pressure from the environment. To maintain that
tradition of technological innovation, Apple employees will always 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 the days of Steve Jobs, employees worked in an
environment of constant fear where the simplest mistakes could get them fired.
These things have started changing under Cook who has continued to innovate the
organizational culture and make it more people-friendly. Apple has matured as
an organization and so has its culture. If you remove the intensity and
excitement from Apple’s culture, it will start losing its sheen. Here,
intensity always matters as it did during the tenure of Steve Jobs. Without
that there will be no flavor in its products or work culture.

Cultural Change

The secrecy, pressure, and competition will remain there in Apple’s environment because they are a part of any technology company’s organizational culture. However, Tim Cook’s focus on creating an employee friendly environment has born good results. If Apple has to remain innovative, its focus must be on keeping its employees motivated, excited, energized, and happy. That required a cultural challenge. Tim Cook has simplified things bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to achieve more speed and efficiency in terms of innovation. The old combative culture has now been replaced with a culture of collaboration. Apple needed this change since growing competition in the market could best be tackled in this manner. However, this also proves the inherent strength of Apple’s culture. Understanding its culture helps you understand some of its foundational strengths and why Apple continues to rule the global market. Organizations whose foundation is laid on strong cultural values have found themselves more stable and stronger in the longer term. Apple’s remarkable growth over the last few years has proved this. Organizations need to create cultures driven by innovation and passion and nourishing such a culture will always require great efforts on the part of the leaders.

Sources:

https://www.t-gaap.com/2014/8/18/tim-cook-changing-the-culture-at-apple

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/01/25/is-apple-still-innovative/#188d8b2619a2

Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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