Respondents have ranked Apple and Google as the two most innovative companies for the fourth straight year. Apple has held the post of top winner according to a survey since 2005 (Müller, 2011). The company has shown strong results since 2000, with an increase in revenue of more than 450% in eight years and net profit increase of more than 1700%. According to Steve Jobs, the company achieves these growth armed with the strongest product line, talented employees, and best customers in the industry. Apple leverages a combination of top-down and bottom-up innovations strategy to create innovations. Apple has built an innovative factory, one that harnesses outstanding innovations from its people, stimulating enterprising new ideas, and launching successful and profitable ideas continuously. Additionally, the company leverages its diverse pool of employees, suppliers, customers, partners, proven innovation process, and a winning culture that does not accept the second position, thereby seizing new opportunities in the global market place and achieve exponential business growth. This paper attempts to study the organizational behavior at Apple and by focusing on the theory of innovation and creativity.
In a cut and dry definition, organizational behavior is the study and the application of knowledge about how people, individuals and groups act within organizations. What this means is if an outside organization were to review a company to see what makes them successful, they would be able to find specific actions and aspects of the company culture that attributes to their position of success or failure. That information could then be hypothetically applied to other companies to help improve their overall performance. For this report, the company at hand for the study is Apple; one of the most important organizations of the last one to two decades. For a number of reasons, Apple has played a major part in the development of technology and its influence on our culture.
Apple and Innovation
When consumers think of Apple, many will immediately think of some of the most innovative technological advances that have had a direct effect on our society. iPhones, iPods and Macintosh computers are the three staple products that have helped push Apple, Inc., towards the top of their industry. Under the leadership of the recently deceased founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, Apple built itself into an organization that became well known for innovative ideas and listening to what their customers wanted. Jobs went above and beyond embracing both of those ideals
Steve Jobs is considered one of the most influential business leaders of our time for the way he developed Apple, Inc. into the technological powerhouse it has become today. He played a central part in the birth of Apple in 1977, up until his death in 2011. During that time, his belief and leadership methods helped shape the organizational behavior in Apple that would help them become the industry standard that they are today. It is very easy to look throughout the Internet and find quotes that were left behind by Jobs that are used as influential quips for those involved in the business world. Since his death many experts and reports have chronicled the struggles that the new leadership have had to face and few believe that the company will face tougher struggles in the future. It is very clear to see that Steve Jobs played a very vital role in not only innovation within Apple, but also how it is used throughout the business world.
Organizational Behavior of Apple
When looking at Apple Inc. as a whole one must work to gain an understanding of the organizational behavior that has led too much of its success. As stated, one of the biggest factors towards that success was the fact that the company was staunch in their belief of innovation from the highest executive all the way down to the entry-level employees. “Steve was all about being innovative in marketing, product features, design, packaging, purpose-he knew that thinking differently was the key to differentiating Apple from the crowd of MeTo companies” (Canton, 2011). This belief in the importance of being different is vital in today’s marketplace and is a key lesson point for organizations that are looking to build their own legacy, no matter what industry they operate (Richard, 2005).
If you look across every industry you will see how companies are continually trying to defeat each other by developing new ideas. It does not matter if it is the clothing, car or television industries: each tries to come up with new products and ideas that will attract customers to spend their money within their markets. One prominent example is the video game industry. With every knew game that comes out developers are continually developing new game play factors, characters and anything else that hasn’t been seen before. Even beyond that, new game systems are released on a two to three year cycle as technology continues to improve. The goal is to consistently develop new products that will keep the customers attention and potentially cause them to spend more money on the company’s products.
How Innovation Helps Deal With Challenges
Innovation and an embracing of it is a strong tool to help managers and CEOs overcome many of the challenges that can come up in the business world. In times such as these, when customers are least likely to be willing to part with their money, companies have to be creative in how they entice these individuals to use their products and services. Coming up with new technological advances, different products and other ways to garner attention is one of the most successful ways to do so (Johnson, et al., 2009). At the same time, innovation can also be a great tool in solving the different problems that can arise when dealing with employees or public relations situations. Over time, Apple has built a seasoned management team that is optimized to support bold new product initiatives and recover from the occasional flop (Morrison, 2009).
For example, in 2011 FedEx was faced with a brief crisis when video surveillance footage of a delivery man in a very bad light. While delivering a package that was marked as fragile, the employee threw the package over the gate at the home of the customer. Of course, the outcome was that said package contents were destroyed. Instead of trying to cover over the situation, FedEx took to social media to reach out to their customers to inform them that this situation was a rarity and they will take all the precautions that it will never happen again (Dietrich, 2012). In today’s society, negative news can hit the Internet and spread like wildfire. Not containing said fire could have serious negative consequences on the ability of the organization to function. FedEx helped set an interesting example of using the same medium in which the bad news was revealed, to release their public relations response and hopefully contain the situation before it became worse. This is an example of how being innovative with the technology at hand assisted FedEx in being able to release a quick and impactful response to a situation that could have become a public relations nightmare.
Companies need to continually stay ahead of the curve when trying to figure out new ways to deal with the challenges that come up every day. As social media platforms continue to grow and take more prominent positions in our daily lives, these venues give customers more options on how to complain about the services or product mistakes they may have experienced. Organizations such as Apple and FedEx have thrived by using these same venues to product their organization as a whole and recant these problems as they arise.
How Innovation Helps Main Customer Satisfaction
Apple’s embracing of innovation can also be seen with how they handle controversy surrounding their products. Even recently, the organization has had to step up and take the public lashing that came along with the release of the Apple iPhone 5. Many customers were complaining about the Maps application that came with the phone. Instead of ignoring the problem, Apple’s current CEO outright apologized for the faulty program and ensured customers that the issue will be corrected. While dealing with upset customers may not be considered an innovative way to solve a problem, the fact that Apple consistently does so in a quick manner is an action that more organizations should cover.
Innovation is also a solid recourse to creating a strategy to maintain customers in a very competitive marketplace. Apple’s organizational culture of providing their customers with the products and services it desires has created many different industry standards that now are customary in the technology world. In developing these innovative standards, much of the industry has begun to recommend Apple’s products as top of the line when compared to their competitors.
For example, let’s look at the applications and capabilities that come with many of Apple’s computers today. Video cameras have become an important part of online interactions. Now many users have an expectation of being able to video chat with others across the world for business and personal reasons without the need to attach additional items to their laptop or computer. Now, majority of Apple computers come with the ability to video chat built in. This feature goes hand in hand with many of the creative programs that are used with Apple’s programming system such as Final Cut Pro. These innovative conveniences make many Apple computers the go to products of choice, especially by those individuals who are looking to develop their creative background.
Customer satisfaction should always be one of the first objectives for any organization that is a part of the consumer marketplace. Without these customers your organization will not be able to function and will falter from the start. Continually developing new ways to keep your customers satisfied with products and services is one important attribute that maintaining an innovative thought process will bring to your company.
Creativity impact at apple employees
Apple leverages a combination of top-down and bottom-up innovation strategy to create innovations. The company is organization and management driven, process oriented and highly structured. In order to achieve its strategies, Apple has an innovative culture closely coupled with that of its leadership. As leading innovative company in the world, Apple’s employment brand makes employees feel they that they are cool when they work with Apple. In addition, employees feel as part of a team that helps in changing the world through technology. The success of the company depends on its ability to stay ahead in introducing innovative products into the market ahead of competitors.
However, if it fails in doing so, then the company’s brand would fade. The commitment of employees to Apple comes from other factors far outside of the control of employees. Failure on the part of these factors could adversely affect employee engagement and commitment. If Apple reports a bad quarter, the adrenalin rush could end soon. Apple has been able to diversify its portfolio for drivers of employee engagement in order to mitigate risks. By offering benefits that talent competitors have, Apple addresses some of the reasons to leave.
As with both of these examples provided, it is clear to see that practicing innovation and creative thinking such as Apple does on a daily basis can help solve many issues that some organizations run into during operation. Organizations should consistently look for new ways to improve their processes, develop new products and create new services that their customers can enjoy. Even beyond the maintaining customers and dealing with complaints; innovative thinking can be used to help cultivate and develop the talent that is a part of your staff or help you come up with new products that your competitors have missed out on. If your organization can continually beat out the competition when it comes to these important points; then you can expect to maintain a prominent position in your industry of choice. Innovative thinking as an organizational behavior is a great way to spark the activity within an organization and help employees reach some of the goals that are in place.
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