Monday, October 26, 2020

Apple University Dean on Apple’s Organizational Structure

Joel M. Podolny and Morten T. Hansen (via MacRumors):

When Jobs arrived back at Apple, it had a conventional structure for a company of its size and scope. It was divided into business units, each with its own P&L responsibilities. General managers ran the Macintosh products group, the information appliances division, and the server products division, among others. As is often the case with decentralized business units, managers were inclined to fight with one another, over transfer prices in particular. Believing that conventional management had stifled innovation, Jobs, in his first year returning as CEO, laid off the general managers of all the business units (in a single day), put the entire company under one P&L, and combined the disparate functional departments of the business units into one functional organization.


As was the case with Jobs before him, CEO Tim Cook occupies the only position on the organizational chart where the design, engineering, operations, marketing, and retail of any of Apple’s main products meet.

Matt Rogers:

This article skips what I think of as the highest innovation time at Apple, back when @tfadell and I were there. iPod/iPhone were actually their separate org, which allowed for more focus and freedom from other company distractions.

Tony Fadell:

Spot on

Charles Schlaff:

Not to mention the current day orgs are still highly organized around product. I knew of like 3 people on the phone team, and I was on Watch / Health for 4+ years.

Dave Edwards:

Also good to remember Sina’s Apps Group, an entirely separate division with distinct P&L incl. engineering, marketing, sales, etc. A nimble source of great innovation back in the day. We existed in part b/c SJ didn’t want any functional head to own their entire function.

Tony Fadell:

What a shame that innovation and the organization wasn’t properly represented.


Update (2020-11-02): See also: Hacker News, TidBITS Talk.

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