The Aspects of Innovation Apple Inc.

free essayApple Inc. is one of the world’s largest developers of digital devices and software, which benefits from specific leadership and innovative challenges. The challenges in innovations and leadership present two main issues for Apple Inc.. The first one is the rapid development of IT industry and its global integration, which leads to the strong presence of competitors on the global market. At the same time, the company’s CEO has changed as a result of the death of its former CEO Steve Jobs, who was famous for being an outstanding innovator. Consequently, the process of the company workers’ adaptation to the new leadership style causes delays in the original solutions and undermines the sustainability of the company. However, this strategy can be valid only as a result of structural changes, which would enable the creative potential of the workers. Therefore, the new CEO of Apple Tim Cook should develop employees’ personal skills in creative thinking along with establishing job opportunities for inventive IT specialists. As a result, the structural changes and appointments of effective managers along with new creative employees would boost the innovative potential of the company. Therefore, Apple Inc. would produce more original devices and software assuring its sustainability and competitiveness in the global market.

Innovations in different companies bear different features, but in general they are aimed at reaching a single goal, which is profitability and competitiveness in local and global markets. This paper is reporting on the aspects of innovation Apple Inc. introduced in the USA. Apparently, Apple one of the most technically advanced corporations. However, it shares a diverse market of digital products and services with other brands, which increases the need for enhanced competitiveness. Thus, the presented report focuses on such aspects as the general overview of the company, leadership and innovation challenges and solutions, framework for innovations and the perspectives of development. The performed analysis infers that Apple one of the modern companies, which implements innovations at different levels of the structure and operation of business. The results of the research would be useful for future management specialists and current practitioners in the sphere of management in terms of enhancing the scope of contemporary approaches towards innovations in modern business.

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The Business Case for Innovation

It is a well-known fact that Apple a business, which specializes in IT goods and services. As a result, the company is required to be innovative because the market of information and digital technologies is rapidly changing every year. Innovation is defined as a “complex, multi-actor phenomenon that involves the translation of ideas into some sort of value in the future” (Owen et al. 2013). In this sense, the opinions of the stakeholders of the company differ. Some claim that Apple Inc. is an innovator, while others state that the company lacks innovations. Similarly, some experts claim that Apple still capable of coming up with breakthrough innovations. For instance, one of the innovative aspects is that the company has introduced a service of changing old iPhones into new ones. The company encourages smooth transition from one device to another by means of a program “iPhone as a Service,” which pushes the sales of these devices in the USA much higher (Katsenelson 2015). Similarly, the CEO of the company Tim Cook states that, “innovation is alive at Cupertino,” the headquarters of the company, because it develops new hardware and software (Rubin 2014). Indeed, it is evident that the company is constantly updating its products and services, but the critics argue that there is nothing revolutionary in this aspect anymore. Therefore, Apple Inc. should strongly prioritize innovations as the core propelling force of the business, increasing its competitiveness in the world market. One of such aspects, which have been critical for the company throughout several decades, is leadership.

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Leadership Challenges

Leadership has been one of the most crucial factors for Apple Inc. because of its strong associations with its most prominent CEO Steve Jobs. Indeed, the role of Steve Jobs at Apple Inc. is worth mentioning not only because he was the co-founder of the company. His influence on the prosperity of the company was so strong that his return in 1997 after being ousted in 1985 led to an enormous encouragement of the business. Jobs’ innovations and leadership style led to fascinated results; by the time of his death in 2011 he has built the world’s most valuable company (Isaacson 2012). After his death, the stakeholders of the company were seriously concerned about the future of the company because earlier after his leave Apple Inc. was approaching bankruptcy. As a result, Tim Cook’s appointment as the CEO of the company split the public opinion. Some were stating that his leadership style is worse, while others opposed this assignment. In general, Cook was expected to move away from the decision-making style characterized by thinking about “what Steve would have done” (Kane 2014). As a consequence, the critics argue that Tim Cook’s leadership will not maintain the position of the company as an innovation powerhouse because his style does not support sustainability (Godelnik 2014). They explain such claims by the fact that Cook is too concerned about such issues as the climate change and philanthropy missing the opportunity to focus on company’s improvement. Thus, the main problem is the need to adjust a company to the new style of leadership together with the increase of leadership proficiency of the new CEO.

In general, the solution of the problem lies at the surface but requires structural and personal changes. The critics indicate that the new Apple Inc. CEO is not worse or better in his approaches and views, just different. They mention that Jobs’ personal leadership style was quite harsh. His opinion was the most critical regarding any product, which often led to firing employees who opposed him (De Looper 2014). Instead, Cook aims at building relationships and bringing out collaborative solutions, which lead to the decision-making process of the company becoming slower. However, this drawback might be transformed by a systemic change of the decision-making process, where Cook would take the main responsibility for the product choice. Consequently, Cook has to “forget about philanthropy and good citizenship/sustainability and start thinking about designing the new phase in corporate responsibility: The responsible economy” (Godelnik 2014). Similarly, Cook’s lack of innovative spirit caused by his former duties in sales and operations (Shan 2011) has to be compensated by experts in this sphere. As a consequence, Tim Cook has to either develop his individual skills in creativity or hire consultancy agents capable of creating innovative solutions. However, there changes should be facilitated by an appropriate framework for innovations.

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Innovation Challenges

The main challenges for innovation in the sphere of digital technology are caused by its rapid development, global growth, integration, and the strong presence of competitors. Thus, one of the sources for the critique of Apple Inc. is the comparison of its products and activities to its worldwide competitors such as Google and Samsung. For instance, some critics claim that Google outperforms Apple terms of innovations, because it produces a much wider range of revolutionary devices such as self-driving cars (Bell 2015). Similarly, despite Apple’s ranking as the world’s most innovative company by the Boston Consulting Group, Forbes claims that the company “does not make cut at all” at its list of 100 most innovative companies (Adams 2015). Such opinion is explained by Forbes by the fact that the company lacks revolutionary concepts valid in the future perspective. As a result “Apple has a positive premium of 10.2%, …  but that puts it way down at 282nd place” making the company “iterative rather than innovative” (Adams 2015). At the same time, as stated by Tim Cook, modern tendencies lead to the fact that “the lines between hardware, software, and services are blurred or are disappearing” (Rubin 2014). Consequently, the number of the competitors is increasing because of the number of developers working with Google’s software programming solutions. Another threat for the company is the strengthening Chinese smartphone market. For example, the CEO of Xiaomi states that their best phones are better than iPhone (Mamiit 2014). Moreover, the corporation aims to take a considerable share of the world’s smartphone market (Dou 2015). Therefore, the problem of the company is the recent boost of its competitors in terms of producing the devices, which offer a much wider scope of services and possibilities.

However, apart from technology, the most innovative aspect of the company lies in the sphere of marketing, which can be used to compensate the creative drawbacks. For example, the human-computer specialist Bruce Tognazzini claims that “the heart of Apple is its power to create products everyone wants to have, including its competitors” (Thompson 2013). Therefore, the strength of Apple Inc. is in its customer-oriented organization, which is beneficial for validating innovations (Mukerjee 2013). Similarly, other stakeholders support this claim by stating that innovations are not about designing products and “throwing” them at public for testing the way Google does (Bell 2015). Instead, Apple Inc. comes up with solutions, which are well-polished and ready to change the world. Therefore, the CEO of the company should validate policies, which are directed towards attracting software and hardware developers, which would assist the company in terms of innovative solutions. Such changes require the development of a relevant framework.

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A Framework for Innovation

The organizational framework is important for any business, because it assures its proper functioning in different spheres. Similarly, it is critical for innovations, because they are the result of creative processes, which significantly depend on the smoothness and convenience of actions. Scholars claim that organizational structure influences both the general behaviour of businesses and the situations of individuals and subunits within companies (DeCanio, Dibble & Amir-Atefi 2000). Similarly, the organizational aspects influence the flexibility of the company in terms of decision-making and validating policies and regulations. The analysis of recent publication indicates that there are some systemic problems present in Apple Inc. For example, the reporters argue that “deep organizational issues” within Apple Inc. are holding up iCloud development and complicating products (“iCloud reportedly held back” 2014). Thus, the indicated problems in slow decision-making are affected by Tim Cook’s leadership challenges. It is suggested that they may be improved by means of organizational solutions.

At the same time, the other cause of this problem is the ability of Apple’s staff to realize the presence of the systemic issues (Jackson 2013) and passive acceptance of the change of leadership strategy. This aspect is critical, because the failure of realization the systemic flaws confuses the staff and the managers about the sources of the problems.

Moreover, the issues caused by the change of leadership policies affect the general innovative potential of the company. The experts claim that the workers should enhance localized learning in order to recognize their innovative potential (Perry 2014) and assure knowledge transition regarding the drawbacks of the organization. Moreover, structural and functional analysis of the company’s departments would suggest the scope of systemic instruments that would address the discovered issues (Wieczorek & Hekkert 2012). Therefore, the organizational priorities of the company should focus more on self-analysis of the CEO’ leadership policies and structural analytics in terms of innovative potential of departments. Such approach would lead to managers and the CEO exposing the organizational problems and addressing their improvement.

The scholars advise focusing on such aspects as the roles of internal and external participants while changing the organizational framework for improving innovations (Palmer & Kaplan n. d.). The first combines extended core team and internal stakeholders and the second is the unity of consumers, external thought leaders and external stakeholders (Figure 1). It is expected that the established communication between these units assured by the CEO would boost the innovative potential of the company. Moreover, the units with innovative focus should include creative developers of software and hardware, who would freely discuss their ideas and report them to the responsible managers. Thus, the positions of innovative managers should be introduced. Scholars characterize this approach as knowledge management developing an innovative approach (Du Preez & Louw 2008). Clearly, Apple Inc. has all resources required for the activation of innovative thinking. These resources include leadership, knowledge management, and constructive relationships on a friendly basis (Overall 2015). Thus, the company can use human-centred communication of the CEO, which is critical for creating an innovation-boosting framework (Sorice & Donlan) as a means of attracting innovative workers. In their turn, the changed structural organization would allow creating and producing original products. Thus, a less autocratic approach in management practiced by Tim Cook may serve as a general basis for innovations, which would be validated by the changed infrastructure.

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Next Steps

The performed analysis of the innovation and leadership issues in Apple Inc. suggests that the next steps the company should be focusing on the restructuring of its units. Such changes are required in order to utilize the democratic leadership style of Tim Cook as a benefit instead of a drawback. This step is critical because democratic governance may be seen as a challenge to innovation due to the absence of a systemic approach to organizational process (Stilgoe, Owen & Macnaghten 2013). Moreover, it is evident that the new CEO of the company lacks expertise and experience in innovations because he has been taking care of organizational issues. As a result, it is expected that Cook would perform well in restructuring considering his skills and experience. However, the CEO should ensure that each department of the company has experts in innovations, which have enough opportunities to freely discuss their products. Moreover, the duty of the CEO is the validation of the changes by means of the enhancement of customization, which meets the expectations of the workers (Wang & Yang 2014). Such changes are also necessary because they activate specific social actions serving as the driving force for innovative solutions (Cajaiba-Santana 2014). The company depends on technological innovations, so it should restructure in such way, which would allow boosting the creative potential of the workers and reduce systemic restrictions. Similarly, the company’s structure should be flexible in order to match the rapidly changing tendencies of the IT market. In this sense, despite their efficacy, long-term processes of transformative change are irrelevant because of the fluency of the IT market tendencies (Weber & Rohracher 2012). Likewise, for this reason, Apple Inc. cannot validate any end-of-life solution, which might be the option for any other business not related to digital technology (Bachkite, Karaulova & Starodubtseva 2014). Moreover, it should be more definite in terms of objectives and real-time processes because concrete process objectives decrease the activation time of any change (Davenport 2013). Therefore, it is expected that Apple Inc. would ensure sustainability through innovative changes of its framework, which allows using the peculiarities of the CEO’s leadership style as a benefit for the company.

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In conclusion, the paper concludes that Apple Inc. requires systemic changes in order to boost the creative and innovative potential of its workers. The performed investigation of leadership issues revealed the fact that the company is strongly associated with the image of Steve Jobs, the former CEO of the company. As a result, the change of the CEO and the general leadership style practiced by the former CEO cause confusion among the workers and raise doubts about the sustainability of the company. For example, one of the recent reports claims that the product delivery is postponed because of the systemic problems. One of such problems is caused by delayed decision-making, which is the result of a less autocratic leadership style of Tim Cook. Therefore, it is advised that the changes of the organizational framework of the company should be performed in the way that activates the creative and innovative potential of the workers. Similarly, these changes should assure the possibility of free discussions of innovative products and the selection of the one suiting the market at a particular time. As a result, the company’s flexibility in the global IT market would be increased, which would assure its competitiveness and sustainability through increased innovative potential.

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