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Apple, being among the global leaders in the smartphone market, has always benefited from the leadership of Steve Jobs. However, this paper focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of the organization with the intent of giving recommendations on what the company should do to maintain product leadership even in the absence of Steve Jobs. Citing the difference in leadership styles and the role that personalities play in the same, this paper suggests that it would be hardly possible for the company to get a leader with the exact traits as Jobs. Given that expecting them to be like Jobs might limit their capabilities, this paper suggests that the company should pick someone Like Tim Cook who has worked under Jobs. It is obvious that there is a lot that Cook has learned from Jobs. However, he should be given the space to be himself and creative in ways that he knows best.
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There are various factors that often contribute to product leadership. It is not by coincident that Apple has always been ahead of their competitors by always having products that have unmatched qualities. It takes aggression and strategizing for Apple to be able to create products that leapfrog their competition. The good performance in the global market can be attributed to the exceptional products that are produced by the organization. However, the must be something that the company does differently from competitors that enable them to produce products that are typically more preferred as compared to the products that are produced by their global competitors. Much of the strategies that are used by Apple for global dominance are attributed to the good leadership and management that they got from Steve Jobs. Even though the level of involvement in the management of Apple reduced when he excluded himself from some of the major management duties, Steve Jobs remains to be of huge influence on Apple.
Major Problems and Secondary Issues
- Among the primary problems that face Apple include the uncertainties on the performance of the organization in the absence of Steve Jobs. Despite the fact that Tim Cook had managed to effectively function as the CEO when Jobs was on a sick leave it is not yet certain whether the company will be able to maintain its level of innovation once Steve Jobs is not a part of it on a permanent basis.
- There is also the question of whether the institutionalization of Steve Jobs’ value into the company might be of negative impact on the company in the future. The company worked so well under the guidance of Steve Jobs. However, the question that should be asked at this point is if the presence of Steve Jobs is one of the ingredients that are needed for the company to keep operating with the blueprint of his values (De & Business Expert Press., 2010).
- Another problem would be if the Jobs’ successors will have an easy time fitting into his shoes now that many of Jobs’ values have been integrated into the company. Different leaders have different leadership styles that match their strengths and personalities. However, bringing in a new leader with a different personality and traits from jobs is an implication that they are likely to pursue different leadership styles. There is a high possibility that some of the great leaders in the world have leadership styles that might not work well in a system that is defined by the values of Steve Jobs. This might lead to a situation whereby the board at Apple will have to choose between Jobs’ values and the new leader.
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- Notably, there is a high possibility that the change in leadership is likely to uncertainty among the employees with regard to the aspects of the organizations that will change and those that will not change. Given that change in leadership always leads to some changes, it will be impossible for the employees to be certain that all is well even with the assurance that nothing will change with the absence of Steve Jobs in the company.
- Innovation is a vital part of the global performance. This leads to the question of whether the innovation strategies and successes of Apple will remain the same even with the absence of Steve Jobs. Will the company have the strategic clarity that has always been vital for the performance of the organization over the period of existence? Furthermore, there is also the question as to whether the new leadership will be patient enough to innovation because innovation is not magic thus cannot be expected always to work.
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Organizational Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the strengths of Apple Inc. is that they have a strong image. This is a factor that has always made it easier for the company when they are intruding new product. However, the strong brand image often comes with great expectations. The high-profit margins that the company enjoys are also depicted as strength because it has always given them the resources that are needed for product development and innovation. Furthermore, the investment in innovation has always contributed to the high level of differentiation of their products. Apple also enjoys a leadership position especially with regard to technology and the production of smartphones. Despite targeting the high-end consumers and charging premium for their products, Apple still manages to be the second largest manufacturer of smartphones globally.
Most analysts would also say that good leadership is one of the strengths of Apple as a global company. However, it is hard to talk about good leadership at Apple Inc. without Steve Job’s name coming up. Steve Jobs is a form of strength to the organization because he is loved and adored by everyone at the organization (Rothaermel, 2015).
The vertical integration of Apple is also a factor that has always made management at Apple easier. The company has four separate businesses that are managed as one. The four businesses are hardware production, software production, services provisions, and retails. None of their competitors has managed to achieve this level of vertical integration. This is an implication that they are more complete as compared to the companies that they have to compete within the global market.
The company has a limited distribution network, a factor that has highly contributed to their inability to exhaust the global market. The high selling prices can be termed as a disadvantage because it means that only a section of the global market can afford products that are produced by Apple. Furthermore, the insistence on selling products that are of a certain level of quality has often limited the number of products that Apple Inc. depend on. Particularly, the dependence on iPhone sales should be a cause of worry for Apple (Khan, Alam & Alam, 2015).
Incompatibility of the products produced by Apple with third-party software and accessories has always limited the usability of the products that are produced by Apple. This has often meant that anyone using Apple has to rely on the accessories and software that are produced by Apple for them to be able to use Apple products. Therefore, they might be a limit on the number of customers who are willing to buy Apple product. The kind of incompatibility that affects Apple most is the incompatibility of its products to other operating systems.
Alternatives and Recommended Solutions
There are two alternatives that Apple has in this situation. The first alternative involves making sure that whatever happens they will make sure that Jobs’ personality remains to be an integral part of the organization. This is an alternative that is guided by the fact that much of the success that the businesses have enjoyed since Steve Jobs took over was as a result of his leadership. He made sure that every function of the organization reflects his personality. This is kind of leadership that cannot be duplicated. However, in to make sure that they do not introduce many changes that might affect their brand identity they will have to make sure that the person in charge understands Steve Jobs’ leadership style and be of the same personality as Steve Jobs (Kane, 2014). Having worked under Steve Jobs for many years, it is safe to say that Tim Cook is a perfect candidate for this job. Practically, Cooks is still managing the company in the absence of Jobs, but he could still be the long-term solution in the absence of Jobs.
The other alternative is opening the company to possible changes as long as the brand identity will not be tampered with and there will be continued prosperity. This is an implication that the board would not insist on retaining Jobs’ personality in the company if in any case, it will be incompatible with the management style and personality of the leader who will take over. Under this alternative, it is asserted that Jobs’ personality might not be able to last forever. There should be the need for the company to be flexible enough to conform to some of the emerging trends in the market. This is some of the reasons as to why Steve Jobs has been a success (Elliot, 2012). He was trusted by all the stakeholders to lead the company in the best way possible. The person coming after him will also need the chance to prove that they are leaders with the creativity and work ethics to retain the status of the company in the global market or even make it better. Insisting on retaining Jobs’ personality might deny the manager the opportunity to do so.
Apple has a great brand identity and access to capital that has always enabled them to invest in various innovative ideas. In the absence of Jobs, it will be prudent to let his successor apply his leadership skills. The company cannot run on the skills, experience, and wisdom of Steve Jobs forever. Even if Tim Cooks is to eventually remain in charge of the company, it is only right for the management to let him introduce his leadership style. The fact that he had worked under Jobs is an implication that he must have learned a lot from the experience. He might apply some of the lessons that he learned from Jobs in the daily management of the company. However, he is not Jobs and expecting him to be the exact kind of leader that Jobs was can be a declaration of his failure. This does not mean that the performance of the company in various areas is likely to worsen.
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Apple is in a situation whereby a decision on the future of its leadership is inevitable. As seen in the discussion herein, the brand identity the high-quality products that are produced by the company has put them ahead of their global competitors. Apple target market is narrow and has a premium pricing strategy which means that managerial mistakes can be highly punishing for the company. However, with the exit of Steve Jobs being inevitable, they should make sure that they move on and even become a better company. This is something that cannot happen if they insist on having the impression that nothing can take place in the organization in the absence of Steve Jobs.
- De, K. C. A., & Business Expert Press. (2010). Fundamentals of global strategy: A business model approach. New York, N.Y.] (222 East 46th Street, New York, NY 10017: Business Expert Press.
- Elliot, J. (2012). Leading Apple with Steve Jobs: Management lessons from a controversial genius. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
- Kane, Y. I. (2014). Haunted empire: Apple after Steve Jobs.
- Khan, U. A., Alam, M. N., & Alam, S. (2015). A critical analysis of internal and external environment of Apple Inc. International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management, 3(6), 955-961.
- Rothaermel, F. T. (2015). Strategic management. McGraw-Hill Education.