Total Quality Management at Apple
Apple is a prime example of a company that utilizes the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) at their organization to achieve their corporate and social goals. Apple is a company and its main focus in on maximizing the profits of its shareholders but it is also a company that believes in giving back to the society. Same is the case in TQM were the primary focus is maximizing the profits but also keeping in mind innovation solutions that do not harm the society that you operate in. TQM is a form of management in which there is a focus on the individual capabilities of the workers and these capabilities are explored to get collective goals (Goetsch & Davis, 2014). Each employee is motivated to perform at his best level. An exemplary leadership is provided. In the case of Apple, Steve Job has left a footprint of leadership that would always guide the future leaders of the company to motivate their employees to come up with innovative solutions and help the company move forward. The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the way TQM is incorporated in to the corporate culture at Apple from different aspects.
TQM and its benefits at Apple Inc.
TQM has benefited Apple from different angles. It has helped the leadership understand the needs of the employees and fulfil their needs in the best way possible. When the employees of an organization know that they have been accepted as an integral part of the organization and their services are recognized in one way or the other, they start to think of giving back to the organization from their heart. This is what is happening at Apple. Its employees are trying their best to work in the best interest of the company.
TQM principles teach us that each employee must be treated with respect and dignity (Dahlgaard & Mi Dahlgaard-Park, 2006). Facebook has adopted to a culture in which diversity is encouraged. Inclusion and diversity are coupled with respect and dignity to achieve the highest corporate results (Inclusion & Diversity, 2016). The diversity is not limited to just cultural or ethnical diversity. It also includes people who have different approaches to business process and software application development. People with different mindsets are encouraged to set together and work together and find out optimal solutions. According to Denise Yound Smith, Vice President of Worldwide Human Resources at Apple:
“Diversity is more than any one gender, race, or ethnicity. It’s richly representative of all people, all backgrounds, and all perspectives. It is the entire human experience.”
This definition of diversity is the representative of the overall work environment at Apple.
Another aspect of the application of TQM at Apple is the fact that it had a strong and influential leader like Steve Jobs for a considerable amount of time. What is required by TQM is to have a leader who can lead by an example and who believes in the goals of the organization more than anyone else. Steve Job was a person of character. He had believed in his vision of a handheld device that would perform many functions not just act as a media player or a mobile phone. Steve Jobs was passionate about his inventions and was able to breed motivation in his workforce about it. He was creative without a doubt, but what his specialty is that he was able to make other think creatively (Elliot & Simon, 2012). I think that it is his legacy that Apple did not struggle within its operations after he passed away. The current leadership are trained under his supervision and trusted by their employees.
TQM principles encourage the proper training of the employees at an organization. Apple had many training programs and extensive developer resources for its employees. Apple does not believe in the violation of employee right and provide any kind of assistance that may be required. For example they train their workforce at the factories where there products are assembled (“Supplier Responsibility – Apple”, 2016). Apple provides trainings at all levels not just some important levels. This adds to the quality of their workforce at all levels.
All the above aspects of TQM discussed add quality to all organizational processes that are part of Apple. The strict procurement and application processes bring in talented people who have a high chance to become a long term asset.
Negative aspects of Apple management system
Thought we can talk on and on about what is good about Apple, there is also much criticism of its management system. For example Apple has been accused of an anti-competitive behavior (“Apple sues itself in the foot (again)”, 2016). Apple has established a huge market in the world for themselves but at the same time they try their best to protect others from competing with them with the help of different strategies. For example iTunes, which is the Apple’s music store would play songs only bought from Apple. So if you already own a song from a different online vendor, you would not be able to include it to your iTunes account on Apple.
Apple has a history of not allowing different legitimate applications on it iOS store. For example it prohibited the Adobe Flash from iOS. Adobe Flash is a widely document reading applications. Apple banned it from iOS as the application was not written in an Apple approved computer language. The attitude of Apple in many cases has been toward exclusivity when it comes to dealing with a competitive market.
Identifying the current system at Apple
Apple has a great system that is based on the strong foundations of creativity and innovation. The employees at Apple are encouraged to think out of the box and come up with solutions that might not look “real”. I mean that they have adopted to a system that believes in bringing to their customers a product that they have never heard of, and then they use different strategies that would make these customers love these products. Apple’s iPhone is an example of such a product which people had never heard of but now there are many who can’ live without it.
Recommendations about change in system
There are some areas that I think are important for Apple to consider in their future planning. In fact these are some risks that are associate with the business processes at Apple which need to be addresses so that Apple can move forward with any issues.
The first issue that I think Apple needs to consider is the price of their products. I am saying this from my personal experience and being an iPhone customer for many years. The price of iPhone 7 Plus is $769 (“iPhone 7”, 2016). Think this is way beyond an average person can afford. I myself am thinking to divert to some other mobile brand. Apple needs to seriously decrease their prices.
The second recommendation that I would like to provide is the competitive risk that they face from Google’s Android. Android is an operating system that is in competition with iOS which is the operating system of Apple. iOS is unique to Apple while Android is available on many more brands. Apple need to seriously consider making iOS open to other mobile brands as well.
My final recommendation for Apple is that they need to find ways in which people from developing countries can also make purchases on their iTunes and App stores. At present this facility is not available in many developing countries.
Ethical aspects Apple’s corporate culture
Apple presents itself as a company that believes in fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities. Their data centers run on 100% renewable energy like hydro, wind or solar energy. They also encourage their customers to send them back their products once they have reached the end of their useful life. These products are recycled in environmental friendly ways or reused. As earlier discussed, according to Apple, it is made sure that they employees working at their supplier factories are dealt humanly and their human rights are not violated. But a report on BBC had a different story to tell (“Apple ‘failing to protect Chinese factory workers’ – BBC News”, 2016). According to this report, Apple has failed to protect its Chinese workers. In my opinion this is unacceptable and Apple must do whatever it can to protect the rights of all its employees irrespective of their nationalities and location. Apple has been playing a leading role in introducing innovative technologies. I think that they also need to play a leading role in fulfilling all their ethical responsibilities all over the world.
Apple is an example of innovation and determination. They have adopted to the principles of TQM to the letter and spirit and have successfully implemented their business process for maximum utilization of their resources. There have been criticism of some of their business practices that I think need to be addressed before they emerge to be hurdles compromising the rapid growth of Apple.
Apple failing to protect Chinese factory workers’ – BBC News. (2016). BBC News. Retrieved 23 December 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30532463
Apple sues itself in the foot (again). (2016). Theregister.co.uk. Retrieved 23 December 2016, from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/05/04/apple_sa_deep_links/
Dahlgaard, J. J., & Mi Dahlgaard-Park, S. (2006). Lean production, six sigma quality, TQM and company culture. The TQM magazine, 18(3), 263-281.
Elliot, J., & Simon, W. L. (2012). The Steve Jobs way: iLeadership for a new generation. Vanguard.
Goetsch, D. L., & Davis, S. B. (2014). Quality management for organizational excellence. pearson.
Inclusion & Diversity. (2016). Apple. Retrieved 23 December 2016, from http://www.apple.com/diversity/
iPhone 7. (2016). Apple. Retrieved 23 December 2016, from http://www.apple.com/shop/buy-iphone/iphone-7
Supplier Responsibility – Apple. (2016). Apple. Retrieved 23 December 2016, from http://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/