On Apple’s Organization by Function/Strengths

This week’s book learning is from ‘Inside Apple’ by Adam Lashinsky.

An interesting insight about Apple’s organization was it’s focus on function/strengths. Let’s take a couple of examples –

– The head of Retail has control over matters like selection of the site, it’s design and in matters of real estate involving Apple’s retail shops but has no control over inventory or the products (unthinkable in any other company!) that are placed in the retail shops or for that matter on the products on display.

– Every Apple related image is controlled by one centralized graphic design team. That’s every image – be it one on the website, a bill board or an advertisement.

– Top design executive Jonny Ive focuses entirely on design and has no eye on the numbers. So, Ive is known to make unrealistic demands on manufacturing and operations teams in pursuit of his vision.

The principle here is that the notion of ‘general management’ is rubbished. Apple is organized purely by function with a view that you do best if left to focus on the area of your strengths. If Tim Cook, for example, is THE supply chain expert, he handles all supply chain across the company. Simple as that.

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This is of course contrary to all general notions of business where massive businesses are organized into smaller business units which are run by managers who oversee everything from finance to design with some input from the centre.

Apple’s unique method of organization ensures a much greater degree of specialization as well as central control that allows for an enormous amount of consistency. Very unique and so far, very successful.

Here’s to observing how large companies organize themselves this week!