Organizational Vision and Culture of Apple Inc. – From Steve Jobs to Tim Cook

Apple is one of the companies that have undergone leadership changes in the past decade. Since Apple Inc’s establishment, Steve Jobs led the company to success, as reflected in its annual revenue, profits, and multiple innovations. After he died in 2011, Tim Cook, who had served as the corporation’s senior and executive vice president for several years, was appointed the new CEO. The change in management initiated a unique organizational vision, significantly shaping Apple’s organizational policies and culture. Unlike Jobs’ organizational vision of creating more innovative services and products, Tim Cook’s approach focused on improving the existing products and facilitating collaborative efforts among employees through his personal and positional powers.

One of Tim Cook’s strategies to fulfill the organization’s vision includes collaborative efforts among all employees. In one of the past interviews, Tim Cook revealed that his approach was based on effective collaboration, which would be fostered in his role as the company’s CEO (Yarow, 2013). In his view, the plan would enhance the quality of the corporation. Tim Cook used a business analysis method to develop this strategic plan, identifying gaps in the previous organizational strategy. Besides, the CEO implemented a capability analysis to reveal operational weaknesses among employees in the previous organizational strategy and to align his team with the new vision.

For example, Tim Cook noted the limited joint efforts among workers in different sectors. In formulating the new strategic plan, he mainly focused on two questions: “what qualities do you look for in terms of what you think will produce effective collaboration?” and “what’s your role as CEO in fostering that kind of collaboration” (Yarow, 2013, para. 7). Today, Cook’s strategy is portrayed in the manner in which the firm’s employees conduct their activities. Remarkable cooperation among departments is evident, especially in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) team (Bort, 2017). The approach is a unique aspect the corporation lacked under previous leadership, which had stringent control on autonomy across the business units.

Besides, Tim Cook’s leadership strategy promotes a less tight-lipped culture among employees. The approach is a drastic change from the former type of leadership, which fostered a culture of secrecy. Under the management of the new CEO, workers are encouraged to share ideas regarding ongoing projects to improve existing products (Yarow, 2013). For instance, staff in the AI department are allowed to collaborate with academia to publish and release their research on different projects. The existing culture aims to align Apple’s team with Cook’s organizational vision of improving products rather than changing them through sharing and acquiring knowledge from existing literature on technology.

One of the aspects that enabled Tim Cook to implement organizational changes is his traits, which he acquired in his past work experience. According to Lashinsky (2015), Tim Cook’s history of working at Compaq Computer and IBM was the basis of his operational background. In his former positions, the CEO was mainly tasked with controlling the daily production processes and supervising his subordinates. One of the skills managers at the operational level would likely emphasize is teamwork. The experience may have guided Tim Cook into successfully implementing a collaborative culture in the organization.

Tim Cook also uses his positional power to structure the organization. Under this form of leadership, managers are the driving force of organizational change based on their position and title (Sanders, 2014). He assumes his positional power through his title in the corporation. As the firm’s CEO, Cook has the authority to make major corporate decisions, which include dynamic changes in each department. Through his positional power, Tim Cook was able to restructure Apple’s culture and organization in several ways. For instance, he led the massive recruitment of some of the top talents in various sectors, such as Doug Field, who was tasked with heading Apple’s self-driving car program (Eabicicco, 2019). The recruitment process was supposed to implement a democratic managerial style with less bureaucracy than the previous management’s methods. Besides, the CEO utilizes his title in the firm to partially reshape its vision and culture. Under Tim Cook’s leadership, employees are encouraged to share information across departments to foster a collaborative culture.

While Tim Cook’s strategic plan appears to facilitate the company’s success, several methods may have been incorporated during the planning process to foster better organizational outcomes. For instance, the leader should have implemented incremental changes in his plan to promote collaborative efforts across departments. One approach Apple has used for several years is the concealment of its production processes from outsiders and among workers. The strategic plan of promoting joint efforts in the organization should have been piloted in one department after another. Such a method would have helped the management identify the tactic’s positive and adverse effects and determine whether it should be adopted in other units.

Tim Cook’s overall success in developing the organization’s strategic plan and restructuring its vision, culture, and structure is embedded in his personal and positional powers. The CEO used business and capability analyses to establish a strategic plan for collaboration. His traits enabled him to foster a culture of joint effort. In addition, he relied on positional power to initiate management changes in the corporation. At the same time, the leader should have considered an incremental approach in the planning phase of the strategic plan to assess uncertainties that may have arisen at the initiation stage.

 

References

Bort, J. (2017). 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). 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

Lashinsky, A. (2015). Apple’s Tim Cook leads different. Fortune. Retrieved from https://fortune.com/2015/03/26/tim-cook/

Sanders, C. (2014). Why the positional leadership perspective hinders the ability of organizations to deal with complex and dynamic situations. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 8(2), 137-149.

Yarow, J. (2013). In one of his most revealing quotes, Tim Cook explains his strategy for running Apple. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/tim-cook-explains-his-strategy-for-running-apple-2013-6?IR=T

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