Donna Dubinsky and Apple Computer, Inc.

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Donna Dubinsky and Apple Computer, Inc.

As companies today strive for success in the market place, it is the efficiency of the top management in the company, which usually determines whether or not they are able to achieve their goals. Many of these goals and values incorporate concepts surrounding quality products and services, innovation, team spirit, and efficient management, just to name a few. However, many times a disconnect in one or more of these areas can cause communication barriers, leading to various organizational conflicts and problems. In the case of Donna Dubinsky and Apple Computer, Inc. a sudden unexpected change has contributed to such organizational conflict and a break down in many of the necessary communication lines. In this analysis we will discuss the problem, the causes, and what steps could have led to avoidance of such a situation within the company. Problem Analysis

The problem stems from a ¡°proposed¡± change by the Chairman of Board of Directors, Steve Jobs. In order to analyze this case we will understand the impact of this change from an organizational perspective, as well as from an individual (Dubinsky) perspective. Jobs proposed that the current distribution system of Apple be changed radically. He wanted to have a direct contact between the dealer and the manufacturing plants. This is totally different from the current distribution setup in the company where the dealers¡¯ requirements are fulfilled by the company¡¯s distribution centers. Jobs proposal would have totally eliminated the distribution centers in favor of a more fancied ¡°Just in Time¡± (JIT) technique. This proposed change was not only radical, but also quite unexpected for the middle managers of the company. The fundamental areas and people that this change would impact, had many questions, concerns, and possible objections. This a problem because as an organization, Apple should operate with effective communication processes, effective team efforts, report through proper management channels, and be void of power struggles.

There are several areas and people being impacted by Jobs initiative to employ the ¡°just-in-time¡± process. The most obvious area to be directly impacted is the distribution department. Other areas, for example, the manufacturing and sales departments were also going to be affected. As was to be expected, managers in the distribution department, namely Dubinsky and her boss Weaver were not at all in favor this change. Based on their perceptions, there was no need for the change in a process that was already efficient. From the facts given in the case, primarily successful product delivery, it seems that their opinions may not be wrong. Additionally, Weaver was not able to make the right decisions, as he was under a lot of pressure from the top to support this change. This demonstrated that there was a definite need for clarification about the new process, reasons for the change, and a justification for its implementation.

There were several issues that arouse, preventing a smooth implementation of this new process. We have identified five such problems. First, Steve Jobs had a dual role in the company, as the Chairman of the Board and as the General Manager of the Macintosh division. This caused confusion within the company. The employees seem to be demoralized, as they believed that his vision for the company was impaired by his responsibilities for his division. He himself seemed to run the entire company in the manner in which he ran the Macintosh division. It is also clear from the case that there was a conflict of ideas between him and CEO of the company, John Sculley. This situation hindered the company, as was evident from a severe pressure on the margins and a declining market share. It was also being felt within the company that Steve Jobs was focusing on the distribution area, merely to turn the heat away from a less than stellar performance by the Macintosh division. The...
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