A Case Analysis on “Apple’s Beethoven”

SYNTHESIS:

Steve Jobs is the cofounder and chief executive officer of Apple Computer. Apple Computer was considered a trail blazer in the computer industry during the early 1980’s however it also suffered a rough patch from 1986 to the late 1990’s losing sales and market share to big companies such as IBM and Microsoft during the sales decline Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple. One of the reasons for Apple Computer weakening of sales during the said period is its lack of innovation with regard to its software and hardware technology. To answer this Apple took several moves the first was to buy the computer company Next, which was coincidentally run by Steve Jobs at that time paving the way for Job’s return to the forefront of Apple. Next step that Apple took was to focus on hardware to entice the consumers and buy itself time to work on a software that could compete with the ones that are making it big in the market.

Jobs partnered with Bill Gates who agreed to supply Apple Computers with Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer programs. This risk was well taken as it lessened the competitive tension between Apple and Microsoft. Jobs encouraged his managers to explore their innovative thinking which led to the conception of the iMac in 1998. This line stood out from the rest of the computers because of its quirky styling however issues about compatibility of programs still remained. During this time Apple developed a new operating system MAC OS X that was comparable if not better in several respects to Windows OS. From here on Apple has been in the front of innovation, creating video editing programs and perhaps one of its greatest advancements the creation of the iPod. The iPod has been a huge success and has been especially popular to music lovers the world over. Apple has managed to see a big thing before it happens and capitalize on that with innovation and continuous focus on its consumers.

POINT OF VIEW:

This paper will be taken under the keen eye of the current CEO of Apple through Steve Jobs.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM:

Guided by the synthesis above, this paper answers the question: What could Steve Jobs do in order to ensure that Apple continues to be innovative and market competitive?

OBJECTIVES:

  • To determine which component model of creativity does Jobs seem to posses in the highest degree
  • To determine what type of leadership style Steve Jobs is categorized
  • To determine the development stages Apple has gone through in order to innovate
  • To determine what type of organization Apple’s structure belong to

AREAS OF CONSIDERATION:

Assumptions

  • To take the stand point in year 2003 where Apple is successful in introducing the iPod and iTunes in the market

 

Frameworks & Analysis

 

Three components of creativity

The proposition that individual creativity requires expertise, creative-thinking skills and intrinsic task motivation

Expertise is the foundation for all creative work. The potential for creativity is enhanced when individuals have abilities, knowledge, proficiencies, and similar expertise in their field of endeavor. Management guru Jim Collins calls Steve Jobs the “Beethoven of business,” Wall Street loves him, and Bill Gates was once his nemesis.

Creative-thinking skills encompass personality characteristics associated with creativity, the ability to use analogies, as well as the talent to see the familiar in a different light. The effective use of analogies allows decision makers to apply an idea from one context to another. Some people have developed their creative skills because they are able to see problems in a new way. Apple has suffered in losing sales and market share to big companies such as IBM and Microsoft. Steve Jobs, in characteristic fashion has once again cornered a market, with big musical power-called the iPod.

Intrinsic task motivation is the desire to work on something because it’s interesting involving, exciting, satisfying, or personally challenging. This motivation component is what turns creativity potential into actual creative ideas. It determines the extent to which individuals fully engage their expertise and creative skills. Steve Jobs love to work, to the point he is seemingly obsessed. Jobs began making moves that at first seemed risky but in the end paid off. One of the first things he did was to partner with his former rival, Bill Gates.

Leadership Style

 

We say Steve Jobs is a charismatic Leader. His vision provides a sense of continuity for followers by linking the present with a better future for the organization. At Apple, Steve Jobs championed the iPod, noting, ‘It’s as Apple as anything Apple has ever done.” The creation of the iPod achieved Apple’s goal of offering groundbreaking and easy-to-use-technology. Apple’s strategy was to create a product that had a user-friendly interface where songs could be quickly uploaded and easily organized. It was the first major-market device to link data storage capabilities with music downloading.

 

Forces of Change

 

Technology is changing jobs and organizations. For instance, computers are now commonplace in almost every organization. Computer networks are also reshaping entire industries. The music business, as a case in point, is now struggling to cope with economic consequences of widespread online music sharing.

 

Lewin’s three step models

 

Kurt Lewin argued that successful change in organizations should follow three steps: unfreezing the status quo, movement to a desired end state, and refreezing the new change to make it permanent.

The status quo can be considered to be an equilibrium state. To move from this equilibrium—to overcome the pressures of both individual resistance and group conformity—unfreezing is necessary. It can achieve in one of the three ways. The driving forces, which direct behavior away from the status quo, can be increased. The restraining forces, which can hinder movement from the existing equilibrium, can be decreased. A third alternative is to combine the first two approaches. Companies that have been successful in the past are likely to encounter restraining forces because people question the need for change. Similarly, research shows that companies with strong cultures excel at incremental change but are overcome by restraining forces against radical change.

In the case presented, iPod is in its growing stage, since the iPod and iTunes have just been introduced to the market and are having a huge reactions and appreciation. Part of these Growth Stage and large amount of sales is the Honeymoon Period of the product. The product is selling not only because as a totally new product but also as a curiosity reaction of the market to the new product. And in reaction to the good reviews and recommendations in the market, more products are being sold.

Learning Organization

 

Apple is a learning organization; it is an organization that has developed the continuous capacity to adapt and change. Just as individuals learn, so too the organizations. “All organizations learn, whether they consciously choose to or not—it is a fundamental requirement for their sustained existence.

Learning organization use single-loop learning when errors are detected, the correction process relies on past routines and present policies. In contrast, they use double-loop learning when an error is detected; it’s corrected in ways that involve the modification. When error is detected, it’s corrected in ways that involve the modification of the organization’s objectives, policies, and standard routines. Double-loop learning challenges deeply rooted assumptions and norms within an organization. In this way, it provides opportunities for radically different solutions to problems and dramatic jumps in improvement.

Proponents of the learning organization envision it as a remedy for three fundamental problems inherent in traditional organization.

  1. Fragmentation based on specialization creates “walls” and “chimneys” that separate different functions into independent and often warring fiefdoms.
  2. Overemphasis on competition often undermines collaboration
  3. Reactiveness misdirects management’s attention to problem solving rather than creation.

ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTIONS:

 

ACA # 1 – cultivate the internet music by iTunes and strengthen the iPod product

 

PROS

·         They have the first-mover advantage

And will have a good share of loyal consumer because of this.

·         They currently have a strong market share so it would be good to maintain that

CONS

·         There is a threat of new comers to the market

·          Computer technology degrades rapidly.

ACA # 2 – continue to be innovative and dwell on new market and products

 

PROS

·         This would bring about product development & diversification

·         Will keep the market interested with new technology, options and innovations

·         Possibility to capture new market and earn more profit

·         It would encourage employees to be innovative and creative

CONS

·         Risky on capital investments especially if new ventures do not work out.

·         They might neglect the current product that is bring the company a lot of profit

·         Apple’s resistance to change

RECOMMENDATION:

The group recommends ACA 2. Apple should continue to be innovative and dwell on new market and products. Since Apple is engaged in a very competitive market, it should separate itself from other competitors by continuing to be innovative. It should always be at the top of the competition by introducing ideas and products, which would at least meet the customers’ expectations.

In line with innovation, Apple should introduce more products, which are user friendly in order to attract the market. By doing so, Apple can separate itself from the competition and could attract young and old persons who are having difficulties in operating a computer or gadget.

Moreover, Apple should create product line extensions to capture new markets and take advantage of its established brand. Creating these product line extensions would lead to an improved product variety and a possible increase in profits, thereby, diminishing the competition.

 

ACTION PLAN:

The recommended ACA for Apple is to continue to be innovative. However, Apple has to change constantly in order to be innovative. Kotter’s eight-step plan for implementing change can be used as a guideline in order for Apple to be effective and efficient in its innovative crusade.

  1. Establish a sense of urgency by creating reason for why change is needed.
  2. Form a coalition with enough power to lead the change.
  3. Create a new vision to direct the change and strategies for achieving the vision.
  4. Communicate the vision throughout the organization.
  5. Empower others to act on the vision by removing barriers to change and encouraging risk taking and creative problem solving.
  6. Plan for, create, and reward short-term “wins” that move the organization toward the new vision.
  7. Consolidate improvements, reassess changes, and make necessary adjustments in the new programs.
  8. Reinforce the change by demonstrating the relationship between new behaviors and organizational success.

In addition, the success of the change is dependent on the effective leadership style of the management (as needed in steps1-5) of Apple, in which Steve Jobs proved to be. His return to Apple after the decline of the computer products and introduction of iPod and iTunes are facts and results of his effective leadership in changing Apple as an innovative organization.

LEARNING POINTS:

Nothing is permanent, nothing is constant except change. Apple needs to change in order to survive; it needs to continuously innovate and to seek for further improvement to adapt to the rapidly growing environment. To successful do so, it needs to first, realized that there is always a need to change, a room for improvements from their daily processing or transaction with both their internal and external suppliers up to their organizational structure. Second, that a strategic planning is in order to cope up with change, and to do so they need to consider all the employees and systems that will be involved – How to make its people accept change? How to make its people cope up with change? What systems would be drastically affected? And to what extent should they change to meet their short- and long- term goals.

Changes in the organizational structure, in the technology, and in the people are interconnected, as technology and people build the organizational structure and vice versa. Management should therefore not be contented once their goals have been meet. Management should always search for new aims, new visions to make the organization stronger and more flexible. As Adam Smith shares, “It is not the strongest who survives but those who can adapt to changes”.

REFERENCES:

 

Organizational Behavior Book

Robbins/Judge, ESSENTIALS OF ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR, 13e, (Prentice-Hall, 2009)

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About marvzmartinez
an Engineer

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