Leadership and change management are closely linked with each other, as any company needs a reliable coordinator for providing changes. Apple Company may be regarded as one of the leaders in the sphere of media production, and it should be claimed that changes and change management practices might be studied by observing the business practices of this company.
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The aim of the paper is to analyze the data concerning the business performance of Apple Company, as the change management practices are easy to follow this company, additionally, these practices are performed on all levels possible: Strategic, Technological, Structural and Personnel. Moreover, the charismatic character of Steve Jobs may be regarded as a perfect leadership pattern which is the most powerful ruling force of the Apple Company. Hence, it may be studied from the perspective of leadership patterns that rule the change management within a company.
Aspects of Change Management
The key aspects of changes that may be observed in the Apple Company are closely linked with the importance of the constant transformation of the company towards the changing circumstances of the market. This is the only (though the most valued) reason for effective and full-fledged change management. (Keeley, 2007) Change management in Apple is regarded as the necessary reaction of the company to the changing marketing environment and the requirements of the target audience. In fact, change management is the structured and properly weighted approach for modifying the work of a single individual, group of individuals, team, department, or the entire company. Hence, the change management in Apple Company is performed not only to get adapted but also to stimulate changes in the environment. The instances of such changes are not numerous, however, the study of the company’s activity will help to find some.
The aspects of the change management processes that are performed within the company may be analyzed from the perspective of the change scales. The four levels of change management (strategic, technological, structural, and personnel) are managed separately. Hence, the issuing of a new product requires technological changes within the organization and the launching of the new manufacturing powers (or reallocation of the existing). This type of change could be observed when the company entered the media market offering iPod for the audience. The technological changes in the company were headed by its leader and were performed not only within the technical department but in the financial, design, promotional, and marketing departments as well. Steve Jobs, as a leader, stimulated the required changes to create a flexible managerial strategy that can be transformed in accordance with the marketing environment. (Carter, 2008) Hence, the actual importance of the performed changes is explained not by the necessity to promote a new product but to prepare the company for the further struggle for the target audience.
Additionally, strategic changes were required for repositioning the company in general, as Apple was associated with computer manufacturing and software development. Hence, the new image of the company required clear association with media production and the opportunity to hit a wider target audience to exceed the limits of apple admirers only. In general, the change management in Apple was the innovative approach; however, it was performed in accordance with all the rules of change management defined in Coombe (2008, p. 561):
Organizational Change Management requires creative marketing to enable communication between change audiences, but also deep social understanding about leadership’s styles and group dynamics. As a visible track on transformation projects, Change Management aligns groups’ expectations, communicates, integrates teams, and manages people training. It makes use of metrics, such as the leader’s commitment, communication effectiveness, and the perceived need for change to design accurate strategies, to avoid change failures or solve troubled change projects.
As for the personality of the leader, Jobs is regarded as one of the most committed leaders, as he was the only one who could recover the company’s success after years of decline.
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The current changes in the company are closely associated with the development of new products and the promotion of newly developed ones. Hence, the company promotes and aims to stimulate sales of iPad, as well as promote the launch of iPhone 4G sales. These actions require essential efforts not only in change management practices. However, considering the importance to study the required changes in the company’s strategy, it should be stated that the key aspects of change management are Communication and training. (Münner, 2007) Effective communication strategy. The job may be regarded as one of the first leaders who realized the full importance of effective communication. Hence, all the departments should keep in touch with each other. The implementation strategy required for innovating new projects and products requires instant and reliable connection of all the managers to resolve possible questions instantly. Additionally, the CEO, as well as department managers need to have an effective feedback system. This allows the company t trace the drawbacks of the changes and react instantly to the possible problems at any stage of the company’s structure. (King and Wright, 2007)
The company is constantly caring about maintaining and improving the qualification level of the employees. The products are innovative, hence, the change management should be performed within a professional team who will be able to work with any performance structure. (Coombe, 2008)
The change management principles that are applied in Apple Company are not innovative, however, the key emphasis should be made on the implementation principles. In fact, personnel are regarded as the basis of successful change management. Hence, the personnel consist mainly of highly qualified experts and creative thinkers who can accept any change without harm to the allover performance. Considering the fact that the actual change is separated into three phases, they should be analyzed separately. (Joyce, 2004)
This phase is featured with the extensive creative thinking and the innovation of the new practices required to maintain the company’s image of an innovator. In general, this phase is needed for the creation of the required basis in managerial structures for further changes. Considering the fact that the innovation of a new product is often featured by the ineffective decision-making process, change management is required to break up the stagnation in thinking.
When the change strategy is formed, and the key aims of the change management are defined, the company starts implementing the changes. The flexible managerial structure of the company allows performing changes quickly. The main principle of this acceleration is explained by the simultaneous change in all the departments that are involved in the changes. (Münner, 2007)
In general, this is not the vital factor of the change management in Apple, as the changes are performed often, and the company does not require continuous maintenance of the newly implemented structure. Nevertheless, if it is required, the sustaining phase is performed by the persons responsible for changes in any particular department. This means that the leaders of the departments are responsible for the effective change, and they are also responsible for the effective maintenance of the implemented changes. Hence, as it is stated in Nahavandi and Malekzadeh (2005, p. 145):
Whenever an organization imposes new things on people there will be difficulties. Participation, involvement, and open, early, full communication are the important factors. Workshops are very useful processes to develop collective understanding, approaches, policies, methods, systems, ideas, etc.
The lessons that can be learned from this case are not complex. The teams should consist of professionals who are interested in the effective work of the team and the company in general. Additionally, the departments should be managed by creative and wit-minded leaders who will be able to lead the department and provide all the necessary changes without interrupting the work of the department. As for the change management in general, the latest history of Apple Company shows that changes are not lethal for a company, moreover, if they are properly managed, and the team supports the essences of the changes, the company will be able to reincarnate. Additionally, the bright example of Steve Jobs as a leader revealed the statement that successful actions do not tolerate hackneyed managerial principles, as a leader should be able to depart from the classic instructions and act in accordance with the current environment.
Carter, E. (2008). Successful Change Requires More Than Change Management. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 31(1), 20.
Coombe, L. L. (2008). The Challenges of Change Management in Aboriginal Community-controlled Health Organisations. Are There Learnings for Cape York Health Reform?. Australian Health Review, 32(4), 639.
Joyce, P. (2004). Strategy in the Public Sector: A Guide to Effective Change Management. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Keeley, T. D. (2007). International Human Resource Management in Japanese Firms: Their Greatest Challenge. New York: Palgrave.
King, S. B., & Wright, M. (2007). Building Internal Change Management Capability at Constellation Energy. Organization Development Journal, 25(2), 57.
Münner, M. G. (2007). Personal Transformation as a Leverage for Organizational Transformation. the Tea Program as a Facilitator of Cultural Change Management. Organization Development Journal, 25(4), 49.
Nahavandi, A., & Malekzadeh, A. R. (2005). Organizational Culture in the Management of Mergers. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.
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