Organizational Change

Organization: Apple

Apple Inc. is an American multinational company with its headquarters in Cupertino, California. The company develops electronics, computer hardware, software, and online services. Alongside Google, Facebook and Amazon, Apple is a worldwide technology giant known for its high-quality electronic products such as iPhone and Apple computers. The company is ranked position three in the Fortune 500 list and appear in the list of the most influential in the world. Known for its innovative technology, Apple features highly unique products and an unmatched market strategy. The market strategies adopted by the company have enabled the company to remain relevant in the market since its inception on April 1st, 1976 (Lee, Hwang, & Lee, 2006).  Apple has earned itself a considerable large number of loyal customers who have establishes trust in the company products. The company recognizes and apply direct investments enabling it to exploit research and development to foster innovation in its products. Innovative technology has been at the heights of the company’s success ensuring that every new product introduced in the market is superior to the equivalent products provided by its competitors. The extensive application of technology in the company coupled with the current advancement in technology leaves the company with no option but to adapt to organizational changes that frequently occur as a result of changes in technology. This paper discusses the concept of regulatory changes in Apple including the impact of the changes on both the inner and outer context of the organization.


Causes of Organizational Change

The death of Steve Jobs, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Apple in 2011 caused tremendous changes in the company more profoundly in the leadership of the company. Company leadership is a critical component that defines the company’s success in the industry. Upon the death of Steve Jobs, Tim Cook the leadership responsibility in the company and has remained at the helm of the company leadership to date. Steve Jobs leadership was based on excellence and unconventional leadership. Steve Jobs as a leader was able to rally stakeholders in the company behind his visions for the company (Bergman et al., 2014). Enabling Steve to deliver excellent leadership with excellent staff supporting his leadership style (Jagd, 2011).

Intentions and realities of change

More often than not, many organizations find it difficult to understand the external business environment. Thus, they try to initiate organizational changes to enhance their performance. Anticipatory change is an example of the change that can be undertaken by such organizations. Anticipatory change can occur in the form of restructuring of the organization in terms of business growth or downsizing, raw material outsourcing, mergers, innovation, and technology among others. Apple has initiated a series of anticipatory changes in its technology to provide innovative products to beat competitors in the market with similar products.


Emotions of change

Steve Job’s declining health status prompted Apple to appoint Tim Cook as the new CEO in the year 2011. Since the departure of Steve Job from the leadership of the company, Apple has faced some profound issues in regards to employee perception of the change in leadership. According to Harrison’s model of organizational culture, the power culture previously adopted in the organization by Steve bears some drawbacks (Mohr, Webb, & Harris, 2001). The organization (Apple) under the power culture was risking a drop in performance if the leader lacks competence.

Moreover, during Steve Jobs leadership, employees felt demoralized as the decision-making powers were centralized to the top direction only. The employees were afraid to criticize Job’s decisions; they worked in fear and straining to attain the best result to avoid being fired (Mohr et al., 2001). However, Tim Cook took a more different path in his leadership of Apple. He introduced a different organizational culture that essentially was more inclusive, balanced and allowed the employees to contribute to the decision-making table. This kind of leadership is more adaptable to all stakeholders within Apple and reduced the pressure on employees. Employees felt happier and less pressure under the new leadership. The current organizational culture adopted by Apple empowers employees allowing them to participate in the technological innovations embraced by the company entirely. Thus the employee’s emotions change from being fearful to happy emotions and felt happy to work at Apple. Employees also felt that the pressure that they initially experienced reduced (Reilly, Brett, & Stroh, 1993).

Sense-making process in Change

Making sense of the apparent organizational change requires the organizational leadership to ensure that the change benefits the organization. The changes in the leadership of the organization improved the administration of Apple by introducing an all-inclusive system of leadership with a decentralized decision-making process. The new leadership which was introduced by Tim Cook provided a platform for the junior employees to apply their innovative skills to help the company sustain the lead in the market.

However, there are concerns that the current CEO at Apple is yet to prove his strategic management skills and show the value that he brings into the business. The CEO must explore more opportunity to expand the company’s prospects. Steve Jobs demonstrated the highest level of leadership skills which kept the company at the pinnacle of success during his time despite critics complaining that he used a crude leadership culture, power culture.

            Improved employee creativity and innovation, as well as increased employee input in decision making, have been achieved since the beginning of Tim Cook’s leadership. The change in leadership strategies at Apple has yielded positive outcomes, particularly in employee inclusion and participation. When employees feel included in the management of the company, it is likely that the company’s productivity increases thus improving its performance in the market. One of the company’s goals is to ensure product differentiation through innovative and quality product. Distinguishing the company’s product from the other competitors enables Apple to take the lead in the competition (Reilly et al., 1993).  Therefore, cultivating the culture of employee participation in decision making is set to improve both company performance and customer loyalty.

Change in organizational culture

Harrison’s culture model defines Steve Job’s leadership and organizational culture as a power culture (Altman & Baruch, 1998). According to the Job’s organizational structure, he preferred to center the decision making powers to himself as the organization’s Chief Executive. During his leadership, Steve Jobs believed in continual improvement of employee performance. The visionary leadership provided by Steve had both goods and downside. For instance, the success achieved by the company so far is attributed to Steve’s leadership during his tenure as the CEO. His creativity, self-motivation, and intuition enabled him to offer competent leadership (Kaplan, Robert, Davenport, Kaplan, & Norton, 2001).

To a more significant extent, the management structure of the company has changed since the death of Steve Jobs and the assumption of the CEO position by Tim Cook. Not only did the transition of leadership from the former CEO, Steve Jobs to the Tim Cook affect the administration of the company but also the entire organization including the organizational culture adopted by Apple as well as the employees. During Steve’s tenure, the dominant organizational culture was the power culture which created fear among employees. Since Job was focused on delivering the best performance, he hired the best employees and paid them pretty well. This leadership culture enabled Job to maintain high-level secrecy, innovation, and excellent performance. However, the culture seemed to oppress the employees (Kaplan et al., 2001). The culture was not employee centered creating fear and pressure among the employees.

With Tim Cook as the leader of Apple, organizational culture has started drifting. He has begun focusing on creating a more balanced work environment for his employees ensuring that employees are less pressurized and they also get fun at work. Despite the changes, the culture of innovation and creativity has remained at the heights of the company’s performance. The company has been able to achieve product differentiation through manufacturing high-quality product with distinct features from the competitor’s products.

Change from the perspective of Power and politics

Power is intertwined with the operations of organizations and significantly affects organizations and must be considered in the process of organizational change. Power is mainly related to the specific elements of organizations including the norms and routines enhancing the power relations in organizations. For instance, in Apple, the top leadership is constituted mainly by the male with only a few women. The small percentage of women in leadership of hinders their progress in leadership careers. According to (Buchanan & Badham, 2008). Change drivers in any organizational change need to participate in politics to enhance their success. In apple, some of the leadership positions are elective thus involving politics and power.

Organizational learning refers to the process by which knowledge is created, transferred and retained within an organization. This kind of knowledge is internal to the organization and helps the organization to improve its performance. Apple has enhanced the concept of organizational learning through staff training and recruiting and training new employees and retaining them. This aspect of organizational change has ensured that employees are motivated and more effective.

Approaches to Change Implementation

Change implementation in an organization such as Apple is a complex process involving an interplay of various stakeholders including the management as well as the employees. For change in the leadership of Apple to be implemented successfully, there was a need for the management to support the change and embrace it. The directed change approach is one of the approaches that were implemented by Apple. The directed change is implemented from the top to the bottom of the organization’s leadership. The change of top management of the organization from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook is a perfect example of the directed in Apple.

Employees of the organization have the right and mandate to participate in the change implementation process fully. Thus, the decision by the management to appoint Tim Cook as the CEO to succeed Jobs was an indication that the management was in support of the anticipated change in Apple. To ensure that the change was successfully implemented, the management must ensure that mixed and confusing messages are not sent to employees. It is essential that if the management does not fully support the change, then the change must be avoided change (Connell & Kubisch, 1998). The organizational leadership is at the core of organizational change and must fully participate in the organizational changes as the primary drivers of the change. Other forces that affect organizational changes include market dynamics, technology, cost, and competition.

Facilitated change

Facilitated change, on the other hand, involved the entire organizations inclusive of all the stakeholders. This approach to the implementation of organizational change may be slow since the views and opinion of all stakeholders must be considered in the change process. Both the planned and emergent views are discussed in the change. Apple applied this approach to attain a holistic change in the organization and ensure that o on was left out of the change process. The involvement of employees in change implementation, for instance, was key to realizing the facilitated change. At Apple, the employees were involved in the implementation of the leadership change by taking their opinion on selecting the next CEO. Employees were asked to suggest their preference for the post of company CEO. The management team, therefore, settled on Tim Cook after reviewing the suggestions provided by employees. Employees are the most affected by the changes introduced in organizations implying that for any organizational change to be effective, employees must be fully involved in the change implementation.

Role of people in organizational change

Some of the significant aspects of organizational change are internal to organizations with the transition of leadership being top on the list (Duhigg & Kocieniewski, 2012). The role of the new leader/incoming leaders in an organization determines the extent of organizational change to a more significant extent. For instance, the exit of Steve’s leadership and the commencement of Tim Cook’s leadership demonstrated profound organizational changes in Apple. Besides, the leadership approach adopted by the incoming leaders most frequently differs from the strategies adopted by the previous leaders causing significant changes in organizations concerning organizational culture. Another aspect of regulatory changes that were witnessed in Apple is the organizational resources. The resources owned by Apple have however not changed much as a result of the transition of leadership from Steve to Tim Cook.

Communicating the change

Change communication is primarily intended to sensitize all the stakeholders in an organization including the employees of the change anticipated. Based on the sensitivity of the change, the organization must ensure that the change communication mechanism is carefully structured. Systematic change communication is encouraged to allow for an orderly flow of events during the change process. Employees solely depend on the management to get information regarding the change. Poorly planned change communication can lead to the spreading of rumors which may potentially result in change resistance by the employees. Change can be effected through proactive communication and maintaining consistency in change communication. Confusions must be avoided when communicating the change to ensure that all employees are brought to speed regarding the change process.

In Apple, the change of leadership was communicated to the employees in a highly structured format with clear reasons for the change in leadership of the organization. For instance, when Steve Jobs was ill, the management of the organization communicated to the employees. The employees were therefore aware of the impending leadership change at the organization. Proper channels for communication were used in delivering the change at Apple facilitating absorption of the leadership changes among the employees.

Sustaining organizational change

Once a change has been implemented, the next step forward is how to sustain the change realized. Sustaining change can be challenging. Some strategies can be applied to sustaining organizational changes. These strategies were employed at Apple by the management team to ensure that the change was sustained in the organization. The first strategy that was applied at Apple is to demonstrate that the change was worthy which was shown through ensuring that the change was beneficial to the company’s progress as well as the employees. The employees benefited from the shift through being involved in the decision-making of the company. Employees felt more included in the leadership provided by Tim Cook as the leadership style applied was a comprehensive leadership strategy (Reilly et al., 1993).

Another strategy applied at Apple to sustain the change was the demonstration of the sense of urgency. The ill-health and eventual demise of Steve Jobs created a void in the organization’s leadership thus creating a necessity for change in leadership within Apple. The change was therefore sustained partly due to the urgent need for a new leader in Apple.


In conclusion, Apple is constituted by various components including both inner and outer context. The emotional context coincides to the internal business environment that is the core of every business. The internal environment of Apple includes the employees, management and resources owned by the company. On the other hand, the external business environment is the outside factors that affect business such as the government, customers and the community in which the business operates. Organizational change identified within Apple includes a range of factors ranging from changes in leadership, changes in organizational culture, changes in business performance and changes in the executive board of the company. The demise of Steve Job caused a series of organizational changes in Apple company some of which were positive and others negative. The change implementation in the company had a significant impact on the employees as the primary target of the change. Apple employees received the news of the change in the company management with mixed emotions; however, in general, the change brought about positive change in employee emotions as they felt more involved in decision making.




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