Apple Company Organizational Learning

Introduction

Organizational learning refers to the process of generating, transferring, and sharing knowledge within an organization in order to improve the productivity, performance, and efficiency of employees (Argote, 2012). This knowledge is generated from the experiences of employees in their efforts to provide quality services to customers. Forms of knowledge disseminated within organization include ways of improving efficiency, strategies of enhancing customer satisfaction and employee motivation, and avenues of gaining competitive advantage (Argote, 2012). An example of a company that uses organizational learning is Apple Inc.

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This concept has aided the company to become the most valued corporation in the world based on market capitalization. The five disciplines of organizational learning include personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking (Senge, 2010). Apple implements various aspects of these disciplines in order to attain organizational success and domination in the technology, music, and communication industries.

Organizational learning at Apple

Apple’s core businesses include software production, online music market, consumer electronics, mobile advertising, digital video editing, and personal computers. In each of these businesses, innovation is applied because of the need to satisfy customer needs. Apple is considered to be a learning organization because employees work around a common vision, its corporate culture encourages imagination, intelligence, creativity and innovation, its organizational structure enhances flexibility and adaptability, and the management facilitates the creation of a work environment that promotes innovation and change (Lashinsky, 2012).

Steve Jobs was a visionary leader who saved Apple from collapsing and transformed it into a market leader in the technology, music, and communication industries. His vision was to change the world by creating exceptional products that change people’s lives (Lashinsky, 2012). Employees work around this vision. They embrace innovation in order to change the world by providing quality products and services. A compelling vision is one of the characteristics of organizational learning.

After the death of Jobs, Tim Cook took over the leadership of Apple. He continues to inspire employees through a compelling vision that was initiated by Jobs. Organizational learning takes place under certain working conditions because it is a collective process that involves the participation of all employees. Apple has a supportive environment that enables employees to use their experiences and knowledge to improve its operations and processes.

Apple has been recognized as a learning organization for several reasons. The corporation encourages the development of knowledge workers through exceptional leadership, development of products and services based on organizational knowledge, and the utilization of enterprise intellectual resources (Lashinsky, 2012). In addition, the company has mastered the art of transforming enterprise knowledge into valuable outcomes that benefit shareholders. Apple’s management knows how to create a corporate culture that encourages creativity and innovation (Lashinsky, 2012). Employees are more creative in environments that recognize their contributions to the organization than in environments that treat them as mere workers providing certain services to customers.

The company’s learning cycle involves four main steps namely generation of information, integration of information into organization context, interpretation of information, and implementation of gained knowledge (Argote, 2012). The first step involves the collection of information regarding the needs, wants, and interests of customers. Apple is customer-focused and therefore develops products with the needs of customers in mind (Lashinsky, 2012).

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After collecting information, employees integrate it into different contexts in order to determine how it connects with other organizational needs and functions. Interpretation of information occurs after its integration into the organization context. This step involves the collection of ideas and opinions from employees regarding the suitability of the strategy and how it can be improved (Lashinsky, 2012). It encourages interactions among employees, exchange of ideas, and exhibition of creativity and imagination. Finally, the company takes action based on results gained from the entire process. This step is critical because the actions taken affect the entire organization’s processes and functions.

A common outcome associated with organizational learning is innovation (Argote, 2012). Innovation is one of the core principles that Apple follows and implements in providing products and services to customers. The corporation is known for its array of innovative products such as the iPod, iPad, and iTunes. Change within Apple was inevitable because there was need to develop user-friendly systems, innovative products, and quality services for long-term competitiveness.

In addition, the inconsistency and incapability of the company’s management were critical factors (Lashinsky, 2012). Jobs understood that in order to save Apple from collapsing, he had to change its corporate strategy. He figured out that customers needed high quality products. Jobs integrated the company’s many products and came up with a few that Apple would focus on moving forward (Lashinsky, 2012). This strategy worked because the company focused on developing few products that enabled it to innovate, develop a strong organizational culture, and improve its organizational value.

Organizational learning and Apple’s success

According to Senge (2010), there are five disciplines that characterize organization learning. They include systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, and team learning (Senge, 2010). An example of Apple’s application of systems thinking is the assimilation of the iPhone into the company’s related products. Through the iPhone, the company developed a method to integrate an online music store with a system to manage the digital rights of artists and an app store for customers (Lashinsky, 2012).

In order to enhance innovation, the company always considers the needs of several stakeholders and the various platforms that are available for customers to interact with different products. Apple also applies several concepts of mental models that enhance learning and adaption of new concepts in order to compete effectively with other companies. It has expanded its operations from production of computers only to other industries such as music and communications. It has revolutionalized the phone and music industries within a short time because of the ability to innovate and adapt to new concepts (Lashinsky, 2012).

Another important aspect of organizational learning is the building of a shared vision (Senge, 2010). Employees work towards a vision of building products that ultimately change the world by improving the lives of customers. Tim Cook continues to build on the vision that was originated by Jobs. Finally, Apple embraces team learning. Team learning refers to the process of developing the potential of a team in order to attain certain desired results. It involves dialogue, discussion, and exchange of ideas. At Apple, employees hold regular meetings to discuss the progress made by different teams during the process of developing a new product (Lashinsky, 2012).

For instance, the design, software, and hardware teams meet to discuss the progress attained by each division. During these meetings, members exchange ideas and give opinions that are aimed at improving the design, manufacture, marketing, and sale of the new product. Organizational learning has enabled Apple to innovate consistently and create products that satisfy the needs of customers. Its strategies for organizational learning are successful because of factors that include effective marketing and excellent human resource management (Lashinsky, 2012). The company has been able to dominate several markets by embracing innovation and hiring highly qualified employees. Apple hires talented and knowledgeable people who are creative and imaginative. This makes the process of learning easy and effective.

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Conclusion

Organizational learning refers to the process of generating, disseminating, and maintaining knowledge within an organization. It aims to improve the processes and operations of an organization. Apple is an example of a company that uses organizational learning to streamline its operations and attain success. The company exhibits organizational learning through its common vision, application of mental models, development of knowledge workers and knowledge-based products and services, and the utilization of enterprise intellectual capital.

One of the core aspects of Apple’s success is innovation. It is the largest company because it has successfully maintained a culture of creating high quality products that appeal to customers. Its organizational culture supports innovation, change, and team work. These organizational values are possible under working environments that encourage learning. Apple has revolutionalized the communication, music, and technology industries through innovation.

The five disciplines of organizational learning include personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking. Apple applies several aspects of these disciplines into its operations in order to streamline its processes and maintain quality of products and services. The company will continue to succeed and dominate various markets because of its organizational culture that promotes innovation, teamwork, and creativity.

References

Argote, L. (2012). Organizational Learning: Creating, Retaining and Transferring Knowledge. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media. Web.

Lashinsky, A. (2012). Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired and Secretive Company Really Works. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing. Web.

Senge, P. (2010). The fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group. Web.

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