Organizational Creativity and Innovation in Apple
Company Background & History
Incorporated on January 3, 1977, in Cupertino, California, Apple Inc. was founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak on April 1, 1976, by introducing Apple Computers. Since its foundation, Apple is considered one of the leaders in designing world-class hardware and software for computer and mobile devices. After buying NeXT, the company owned by Steve Jobs in 1996, Apple recalled him, who was ousted from the former company in 1985. Jobs returned to the company when its share price was hovering around $5 while the future was uncertain to create the threat of writing off the entire business. Even during the period of difficulty, the core commitment of the company was to design and develop innovative products and services to create its niche in the global marketplace (Rawlinson 2017). During a time when the world economies and businesses were still recovering from the huge financial pressure created by the worst recession since the Great Depression, Apple’s share price in 2012 reached $600 for the first time, the day before launching the iPad (Thomke and Feinberg 2012). Such a scenario is one of the notable examples indicating financial strength and promising future growth potentials of the company.
Q1: How innovation and strategy work in Apple
Not only wise strategic moves or instinctive sense of market externalities that have contributed to the success of Apple but also its deep commitment to understanding the use of computing devices by people and a strong desire to develop innovative products have over the years strengthened its financial growth and prosperity (Pisano, 2015). The development of iPad, for example, was mainly facilitated by the all-ubiquitous passion for music throughout the organisation, which essentially matched the enthusiasm of target markets, comprising needs, abilities and aspirations of millions of customers.
The particular roots of success of Apple, after its emergence in new markets full of fierce competitors and ever-increasing needs of consumers, puzzled many industry experts and technology consultants. Apple, which has always defied logic in terms of conventional business models, has shown no fear to carry out different experiments outside its core markets, allowing the business to capitalise on innovation and strategy at the same time. When the competitors were shifting their focus on direct sales and distribution networks, for example, Apple was the one that concentrated on opening retail stores across the markets. The working together of innovation and strategy in Apple can be described by its core operational approach, known as ‘Apple Way’, which comprises a set of principles along with a strong commitment to design and innovate great products and services (Dolata 2017). Such an approach, which fundamentally accentuates design thinking and clarity in development and execution strategies, encourages the CEO to play the role of a chief innovator to take bold new steps to carry out business experiments.
Q2. Apple’s innovation approach
Design thinking is positioned at the core of Apple’s business strategy and operational approach, which over the years has helped the company to redefine needs and expectations of consumers while securing unique competitive presence across the global markets. Before incorporation of the company, computers were merely perceived as the machines for data processing and automation while used mainly in company headquarters and government facilities, guarded and operated by specialists. The concept of personal computers, which could be used as a tool for individual work, was unimaginable before market entry of Apple in the mid-1970s. With the help of design thinking, the company throughout its operational tenure has successfully evolved business processes and systems, which in turn helped to capture enterprise software, with a specific focus on automation of tasks (den Hartigh et al. 2016). As part of the approach, the company initially creates the design by anticipating needs and wants of consumers during their interaction with the product/service. Subsequently, by keeping a design target, the company work hard through engineering to achieve the desired outcome.
Q3. Risk, Innovate products and Culture
Since its inception, products offered by Apple are conceived of as highly interactive, where much of the credit goes to the contribution of the diligent people inside the company. Based on the excerpts obtained from Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of industrial design of Apple, who administered the development of iPad in the later 1990s, significant emphasis was provided on smallest detail despite little interest among customers regarding every single aspect of a device while using. Considering such a role played by a senior executive, it can be argued that every detail of product development subsequently contributes to developing a rich aggregate, which is important for encouraging customers of different target markets to like the product (Piao and Kleiner 2015). The cofounder of Apple, Steve Jobs, who believes simplicity as the ultimate sophistication, influences every smallest detail in product development, including even the packaging of Apple products.
Considering the pivotal influence of Steve Jobs, innovation, product development and execution lay foundation of the firm’s rich history and highly empowering culture, which inspires people to work on innovation and define unique needs and desires of consumers by considering product and market innovation (Arocha 2017). The notion of ‘design-as-product-integrity’ is highly influenced by its cofounder to embolden organisational people to take responsibilities and undertake innovation to counter market risks.
Q4. Steve Jobs: Risk Taker, Dreamer, Entrepreneur - Impact on Apple. View of Process and procedures.
Steve Jobs is regarded as the pioneer of Apple to achieve great success in a modern business environment while demonstrating great potentials in future outlook. After he returned to the company in 1997 when the business was going through a rough financial condition, Jobs took immediate action to close many programs and business units, change distribution system and launch website for direct sales. The product line with dramatically reduced to thee from fifteen earlier while introducing sophisticated marketing and reviving many aspects at design, development and execution levels (Niebuhr, Voße and Brem 2016). His view on designing ‘insanely great products’ was sanctioned again by the steps taken to refurbish the entire operation of Apple, which in turn, allowed Jobs back into the centre of innovation process.
Steve Jobs and Apple seem to be interchangeable terms, where the CEO acts as the chief innovator to promote the concept of ‘design sense’, strengthening confidence and refining business operations. Sensibility of Steve Jobs is predominated in the company, allowing it to hire likeminded people to reinforce in design work and facilitate innovation. Apart from being known as the company that carries out bold experiments, such as opening retail stores during a controversial time, Apple needs to work on vicariously to continue the legacy of Steve Jobs in terms of design thinking and innovation.
Deeply concentrating on the inherent values of its former cofounder and CEO regarding design sense and innovation, Apple has travelled a long way to register a dramatic increase in share price, since the existing CEO, Tim Cook took charge. However, as the complexity in business systems and technologies is increasing on a year-on-year basis, Apple needs to continuously work on to improve its organisational culture to enable an influx of creative talents joining the workforce to foster creativity and come up with ground-breaking designs. While a highly satisfied and committed employee base serves as the key to achieving organisational success, sensible and design-oriented leaders are the drivers to ensure achievement of primary objectives.