Once a leader in technological advancement, it seems today that Apple is in a corporate downturn. Where innovation was once rampant, now it seems to have turned to stagnation. What has caused this change in conditions for the industry-giant? Has Apple forgotten its core values?
Apple used to be the brand associated most with industry-leading products supported by excellent customer service. But, as lawsuits have mounted over the intentional slowing of older-model iPhones without first informing customers, the reality that Apple may have turned its back on its clients has finally started to hit home for many. As Forbes Magazine online pointed out earlier this year:
“Perhaps this shift from technology enabling great usability to gimmicky features that risk diminishing it aptly illustrates Apple’s turnaround from purpose-driven innovator to a garden-variety big-name corporate lacking vision and losing touch with customers. Its recent decision to shift all of Tim Cook’s travel to a private jet kind of affirms that notion.”
From Design to Decline
For a company that was formerly the pinnacle of minimalist design-aesthetics and fun, simple-to-use electronics, today Apple seems like a lumbering giant, unable to innovate in the same way it once did. From the colorful iMac to the iPod and iPhones which brought to life Steve Jobs’ vision of ‘creating products that change the world’ and revolutionized how we live our lives, Apple now rolls out a larger screen, or a slightly updated, but clunky interface update.
It’s not only a decline in imagination which has hurt Apple. For years, people trusted in Apple because it offered stability and security. Sure, other phones and computers existed, but they lacked the ease of use and reliability of a Mac. Now, however, Apple’s products are ruined by the briefest hint of moisture – and repairs are frustratingly expensive. On the other hand, other makers offer easier-to-use and much-less restrictive platforms for a fraction of the cost.
Can Apple’s Culture Be Revived?
Competitors have begun emulating Apple’s success and former inspiration – and are using it against the tech giant. Can Apple recover its mojo? Or is it slowly lumbering towards an inevitable downfall?
Steve Jobs was a huge loss for the company for a number of reasons, not least of which was his vision and ability to motivate and inspire those around him to achieve great things. Equally important, to support them on their quest, he molded the organization…everything it did and the way things were done…to help them succeed.
Jobs cannot be replaced but there is nothing stopping Apple’s leaders from following in his footsteps and intentionally creating the culture the company needs to succeed today and in the future. This begins with a vision and core values that are inspiring and authentic…something leaders genuinely believe in and are passionately committed to. A rallying cry for everyone at Apple.
This new culture may actually be old and refocus on what made Apple the company that changed the world. If this is the case, the first step may well be for Apple to re-engage with their devoted customer base deeply connecting with users to understand how to make their lives better. The second is to re-engage with employees inspiring and motivating them to create something special. The third is to take a good look at all of the different organizational ‘stuff’ affecting the way people work…policies, procedures, rules, structures and so on….and clean house. In other words, get rid of the stuff that is getting in the way of fulfilling the company’s vision and purpose. Make it easy to be great again!
Ensuring your company’s culture survives the upheaval of leadership changes and key personnel departures is critical. Apple has struggled since the death of Steve Jobs. Maintaining a culture through growth and change is never easy, but it’s something every company should plan rigorously for. In fact, it’s something we like to cover regularly on our blog.
Looking for Help with Your Company’s Culture?
Maintaining corporate culture can seem like a daunting task, especially during periods of growth, but it doesn’t have to be. Culture has a high capacity to help businesses achieve genuinely great things. If you need help defining or improving your business’s culture, check out some of Culture-Strategy Fit’s excellent cultural products and services, or give us a call today at (800) 976-1660 for a free consultation.
Dr. Nancie Evans
Dr. Nancie Evans is co-founder and VP Client Solutions at Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. specializing in the alignment of organizational culture and strategy. She has developed a unique set of leading-edge diagnostic tools and approaches that provide leaders with deep insights into the culture of their organizations, how it is supporting or getting in the way of strategy execution, as well as the levers that they can use to drive rapid culture change.
Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. is a leading culture and executive leadership consulting firm conducting groundbreaking work in leveraging culture to drive strategy and performance. It’s suite of culture surveys and culture alignment tools are used by market-leading organizations around the world.