Apple generates ideas, manage innovation and then effectively diffuse the innovation. They generate ideas or search for opportunities by carrying out effective research and development, Apple has an innovation factory which carries out all experiments using the talented pool of people they have. It follows competition and tries to stay one step ahead of them.
Effective linkages and networking is very important as valid information can be gained from them, so relations should be maintained with suppliers, dealers and other partners. Apple believes in learning and working in teams. Apple’s innovation is driven by external uncertainty and competition. Apple is also very effective in finding new market opportunities and reorganizing areas which were inefficient. It fills the gaps existing in the markets for example the gap of a product which was needed to fill the gap between a computer and a phone, so Apple came up with Ipad.
Authority is delegated by Apple so that the innovative people can focus on their creative work rather than sorting out other problems. Apple’s credibility is very high, it is a trustworthy company and trust breeds innovation. Criticism is accepted willingly by the company as it helps out shaping good ideas into great ones.
Optimum use of Apple’s resources the right time and place and proper project planning has enabled it to innovate. Effective marketing activities have been carried out to position the new idea or product in the minds of the customer. For E.g.: Think Different Campaign.
Apple is way ahead in this field in comparison to the other competition it develops such a demand for its products even before its production, for instance their pre-booking of the new product Ipad even months before launch of the product, proves that they are pioneers in innovation and customer’s belief in them to create strong and innovative product.
Strategic Enablers for Innovation
Enablers of innovation capability in Apple are its Organizational Culture, People Management, Innovation Strategy and its Innovation Competencies.
Apple develops an innovative culture right from the top of the management. Apple’s culture of innovative thinking also fosters the innovation process. Moreover leadership of Steve Jobs had been empowering to the company, he has inspired many new ideas and helped sharing the visions of the company. Apple’s functioning has been smooth and open, without any bureaucracy. Apple has been able to develop models of change and innovation through systems theory and used focused groups and experimentation.
Apple’s motto “Think Different” promotes all working people in the organization to be innovative. Apple recognizes, protects and encourages all innovators in the organization. Innovators in the company are also rewarded either in monetary terms or recognition based. Apple has invested many resources in innovation because innovation requires much funding and lack of it can hinder creativity. Apple promotes diversity in their workforce as people from different background perceive things differently, so new interpretations and ideas can be created if diverse thinking is involved.
Innovation is internalized in all people working for Apple as it is everyone’s role. Apple regularly evaluates all on going projects, as analyzing current activities is essential to ensure proper work is being done, double loop learning should be followed.
The employees of Apple are skilled so they are able to handle the risk; it also tries to learn from their mistakes in the fast. Financial resources available to Apple also help in funding the innovation of the company. Best human resource is available to Apple which keeps them a step ahead of the rest, as there is no substitute for knowledge and talent, unless Apple innovates and tries to comes up with an alternative.
Barriers to Innovation
Apple faces a few hurdles which curtails their innovation capability. Apple always launches any new idea quite early and gives a date for the product launch in the future; it starts it marketing activity early. So Apple has to be efficient to make the deadline, this hinders any further innovative changes that could have been brought to the product as its focus shifts on to production. Moreover under delivery pressure products are made costly, rather than cost effective. Administrative pressure also increases as the products have to meet the launch date, so they stop thinking about things differently. Under this daily pressure to stick to time horizons and budgets, innovation leaves to be of prime importance until the goal is met. Apple sometimes tries to avoid risks, but low risk leads to low rewards, so Apple must take some calculated risks if it wants high rewards, Apple can do so.
Apple’s culture and structure of the organization can sometimes constraint innovative thinking even if the technology is available, so culture needs to be shared by all and communication should be open. Public can sometimes doubt the effectiveness of some of the Apple products and expects a lot. This expectation can burden Apple a lot, so constant efforts have to be made to keep up the innovation. Apple sometimes tries to protect its reputed identity to increase their credibility and sustain itself, so it creates limits and gives responsibilities and lays down rules but innovation crosses the limits set by the organization. So instead of limiting its network, it should broaden it and manage all stakeholders effectively. Apple sometimes calculates the value of innovation in quantifiable terms like market share and profits and forgets things like reputation, leadership, talent, etc. These things neglected sparingly make the value of the firm so it should change the way it values innovation.
Apple leads the customers rather than following them, this can hurt their company in the long run. So customers should be given utmost importance. Apple may have diverse workforce but overtime their thinking will start matching this may hurt the innovativeness of the company. Apple tries to make all its products look quite similar, this stops the creativity of the design innovation. Apple itself is its biggest enemy so it manages innovation effectively. Negativism and giving up can hurt Apple’s innovation capability. Complexity should also be avoided, managed or used effectively. Innovators come up with many ideas but which is the most appropriate one is hard to decide Apple has to keep that in mind. Microsoft were not going to work on the internet idea until now but they did this made our life so much easier.
Apple’s market research is limited and this can hinder their organization as customer is the ruler and not Apple and importance should be given to their needs. Apple has also faced some barriers to Innovation when it has outsources some parts to other companies and they have come up short, or some suppliers did not provide in time. Apple relies on logic a lot but innovation is not derived by logic and some assumptions are also made which may be incorrect.