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Apple’s Organizational Vision

Apple has a long and storied history beginning in 1976 when Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne started Apple Computer with the launch of the Apple 1 computer which was more of a computer kit that contained a circuit board but no monitor or keyboard (“Rare original ‘Apple-1′ computer sold by Steve Jobs from his parents’ garage goes on sale for £150,000”, 2010). Over the next 4 years, Apple released the Apple II and Apple III which sold well but did not receive widespread adoption primarily due to overall cost and lack of available software.

The 80’s were tumultuous times for Apple. They introduced the Apple Lisa and MacIntosh which changed the personal computing landscape. However, it also became a time of infighting and power struggles which would become an enduring problem for Apple. In 1985, founder and lead visionary Steve Jobs revolted from control measures the Apple board and CEO John Scully placed on him. This led to an internal battle that ended with Jobs being ousted from the company he founded (Ngak, 2012). Over the next 12 years, Apple introduced a variety of products that included new computers but also digital cameras, portable CD players and speakers all of which were met with limited success.  In 1996, Apple bought Next, Inc., the company founded by Jobs when he left Apple in 1985, for $430 million and in 1997 Jobs returns to Apple as interim CEO. Jobs makes an immediate impact in his first year as CEO, Apple is profitable after years of mediocre success in the 12 years Jobs was away.

In 2001, Apple announces the IPod, a ministorage device for playing music which revolutionized the industry, allowing Apple to place their first foot on a golden path that will lead through the current day. Apple success continues with the launch of the iTunes store for purchasing digital media, an iPod advancement that allows it to play video, the release of the iPhone and then most recently (2010) the iPad release. Apple had tremendous growth since Job’s return in 1997 when the stock was at $3.74/share and is currently trading close to $700/share (Google Finance, 2012).  In August 2011, Steve Jobs announced his resignation as CEO which was later attributed to health conditions. Tim Cook was named CEO and in his first year was praised for making Apple more shareholder-friendly (Kim, 2012).

There is no question that Apple’s financial and product development has been extremely positive for its customers and shareholders. However, as Scott Blanchard says “Great companies focus on more than one bottom line when gauging their performance” (Blanchard, 2007) so we must evaluate Apple’s overall development. Apple’s development is for the most part based upon the vision of founder and former CEO Steve Jobs. Historically, little information was available about the inner workings of Apple and its culture primarily due to Job’s demand for complete secrecy from his employees. Over the past few years, information has been released from both current and former employees. The picture that is being painted is that Jobs had an “either/or” philosophy which Blanchard describes as “Managers either believe they can achieve profitability or they can develop a great workplace, but not both. These leaders don’t always take morale and job satisfaction into consideration” (Blanchard, 2007).  Current Apple store employees express unhappiness over their $11.75/hour rate when they are generating $750,000 in sales in just 3 months (Segal, 2012) and former employees claim Jobs had a Draconian management style (Camm-Jones, 2012).  In Blanchard’s “both/and” approach, great companies put the development of people at equal importance to financial performance and it’s hard to prove Apple succeeded in this area. However, the area in which Jobs did succeed in the “both/and” approach is that great companies begin by both creating and nurturing a vision of the future, then measure progress against that vision” (Blanchard, 2007).

Apple’s vision and values have changed little over the years. In their vision and mission statement from 1984, Apple focused on “what” they do versus “why” they do it. Their 1984 mission statement reads “To produce high-quality, low cost, easy to use products that incorporate high technology for the individual. We are proving that high technology does not have to be intimidating for noncomputer experts” (“Apple Computer Mission Statement”, 2009). And their current mission statement has that same focus on “what” they do: “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.” (“Apple mission statement”, 2012).

What is interesting about Apple and their vision and values is that they are not made readily available. Searching the Apple website returns no match of a vision or values statement, only a mission statement which is notably found in the Investor Relations section of the site. Performing a general search of the web for Apple’s vision and values statements returns mostly results of people asking where you can find these statements about Apple. So one has to wonder if in the veil of secrecy that Jobs demanded of his employees, this information exists only between the walls of Apple and more than likely contains values and visions that emphasis the triple bottom line and define values that become a compass for Apple. Otherwise, is it possible to be the most valued company in history when you’re sole focus is not community, not the environment, not employee satisfaction?

References

Apple Computer Mission Statement. Retrieved from http://www.samples-help.org.uk/mission-statements/apple-computer-mission-statement.htm. Accessed on October 5, 2012.

Apple mission statement. (2012). Retrieved from http://investor.apple.com/faq.cfm?FaqSetID=6

Blanchard S. What is on the mind of great companies?. U.S. Business Review [serial online]. May 2007;8(5):10-11. Available from: Business Source Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed October 6, 2012.

Camm-Jones, B. (2012). Inside Apple reveals the life of an Apple employee. MacWorld. Retrieved from http://www.macworld.co.uk/apple-business/news/?newsid=3331145

Google Finance (2012). Retrieved from http://www.google.com/finance. Accessed October 5, 2012.

Kim, S. (2012). A look at Apple (AAPL) one year after Steve Jobs’ death. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Business/apple-aapl-changed-year-steve-jobs-death/story?id=17387066#.UHF2M1HCaSq

Ngak, C. (2012). Steve Jobs was never fired, says former Apple CEO John Sculley. CBSNews. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-57358933-501465/steve-jobs-was-never-fired-says-former-apple-ceo-john-sculley/

Rare original ‘Apple-1′ computer sold by Steve Jobs from his parents’ garage goes on sale for £150,000. The Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1328439/First-Apple-Steve-Jobs-auction-150k-Christies.html#ixzz28cUNHAVX

Steve Jobs at Apple: a history. (2011). The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/25/steve-jobs-at-apple-a-history_n_936027.html

Segal, D. (2012). Apple’s retail army, long on loyalty but short on pay. The New York Times. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/business/apple-store-workers-loyal-but-short-on-pay.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www

Waddock, S. (2009). Leading Corporate Citizens: Vision, Values, Value Added. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

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