Daily Productive Sharing 053 - Apple 的组织架构如何为创新服务

One helpful tip per day:)

(The English version follows)

最近几天,这篇关于 Apple 的组织架构如何为创新服务的文章 How Apple Is Organized for Innovation 引起了很大的反响。 作者 Joel M. Podolny 是 Apple University 的 VP。与其读译文,不如直接读 HBS 上的原文。下面是一些摘录:

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.

Senior vice presidents are in charge of functions, not products.

To create such innovations, Apple relies on a structure that centers on functional expertise. Its fundamental belief is that those with the most expertise and experience in a domain should have decision rights for that domain.

  • First, Apple competes in markets where the rates of technological change and disruption are high, so it must rely on the judgment and intuition of people with deep knowledge of the technologies responsible for disruption.

  • Second, Apple’s commitment to offer the best possible products would be undercut if short-term profit and cost targets were the overriding criteria for judging investments and leaders.

  • The finance team is not involved in the product road map meetings of engineering teams, and engineering teams are not involved in pricing decisions.

  • Whereas the fundamental principle of a conventional business unit structure is to align accountability and control, the fundamental principle of a functional organization is to align expertise and decision rights.

Apple is not a company where general managers oversee managers; rather, it is a company where experts lead experts.

For example, Apple’s more than 600 experts on camera hardware technology work in a group led by Graham Townsend, a camera expert.

For example, the dual-lens camera with portrait mode required the collaboration of no fewer than 40 specialist teams: silicon design, camera software, reliability engineering, motion sensor hardware, video engineering, core motion, and camera sensor design, to name just a few.

One principle that permeates Apple is “Leaders should know the details of their organization three levels down,” because that is essential for speedy and effective cross-functional decision-making at the highest levels.

The answer is collaborative debate. Because no function is responsible for a product or a service on its own, cross-functional collaboration is crucial.

Leaders are expected to hold strong, well-grounded views and advocate forcefully for them, yet also be willing to change their minds when presented with evidence that others’ views are better.

A leader’s ability to be both partisan and open-minded is facilitated by two things: deep understanding of and devotion to the company’s values and common purpose, and a commitment to separating how right from how hard a particular path is so that the difficulty of executing a decision doesn’t prevent its being selected.

The adjustments Tim Cook has implemented in recent years include dividing the hardware function into hardware engineering and hardware technologies; adding artificial intelligence and machine learning as a functional area; and moving human interface out of software to merge it with industrial design, creating an integrated design function.

In 2006, the year before the iPhone’s launch, the company had some 17,000 employees; by 2019 that number had grown more than eightfold, to 137,000. Meanwhile, the number of VPs approximately doubled, from 50 to 96. The inevitable result is that senior leaders head larger and more diverse teams of experts, meaning more details to oversee and new areas of responsibility that fall outside their core expertise.

Whereas Apple’s VPs spend most of their time in the owning and learning boxes, general managers at other companies tend to spend most of their time in the delegating box.

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In recent days, this article about how Apple's organizational structure [How Apple Is Organized for Innovation](https://hbr.org/2020/11/how-apple-is-organized-for- innovation) has generated a lot of buzz. Here are some excerpts.

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.

Senior vice presidents are in charge of functions, not products.

To create such innovations, Apple relies on a structure that centers on functional expertise. Its fundamental belief is that those with the most expertise and experience in a domain should have decision rights for that domain.

  • First, Apple competes in markets where the rates of technological change and disruption are high, so it must rely on the judgment and intuition of people with deep knowledge of the technologies responsible for disruption.

  • Second, Apple’s commitment to offer the best possible products would be undercut if short-term profit and cost targets were the overriding criteria for judging investments and leaders.

  • The finance team is not involved in the product road map meetings of engineering teams, and engineering teams are not involved in pricing decisions.

  • Whereas the fundamental principle of a conventional business unit structure is to align accountability and control, the fundamental principle of a functional organization is to align expertise and decision rights.

Apple is not a company where general managers oversee managers; rather, it is a company where experts lead experts.

For example, Apple’s more than 600 experts on camera hardware technology work in a group led by Graham Townsend, a camera expert.

For example, the dual-lens camera with portrait mode required the collaboration of no fewer than 40 specialist teams: silicon design, camera software, reliability engineering, motion sensor hardware, video engineering, core motion, and camera sensor design, to name just a few.

One principle that permeates Apple is “Leaders should know the details of their organization three levels down,” because that is essential for speedy and effective cross-functional decision-making at the highest levels.

The answer is collaborative debate. Because no function is responsible for a product or a service on its own, cross-functional collaboration is crucial.

Leaders are expected to hold strong, well-grounded views and advocate forcefully for them, yet also be willing to change their minds when presented with evidence that others’ views are better.

A leader’s ability to be both partisan and open-minded is facilitated by two things: deep understanding of and devotion to the company’s values and common purpose, and a commitment to separating how right from how hard a particular path is so that the difficulty of executing a decision doesn’t prevent its being selected.

The adjustments Tim Cook has implemented in recent years include dividing the hardware function into hardware engineering and hardware technologies; adding artificial intelligence and machine learning as a functional area; and moving human interface out of software to merge it with industrial design, creating an integrated design function.

In 2006, the year before the iPhone’s launch, the company had some 17,000 employees; by 2019 that number had grown more than eightfold, to 137,000. Meanwhile, the number of VPs approximately doubled, from 50 to 96. The inevitable result is that senior leaders head larger and more diverse teams of experts, meaning more details to oversee and new areas of responsibility that fall outside their core expertise.

Whereas Apple’s VPs spend most of their time in the owning and learning boxes, general managers at other companies tend to spend most of their time in the delegating box.

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