Got a tip for us? Share it...

New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

How Apple's Organizational Structure and Policies Contribute to Company's Strict Secrecy

Fortune publishes a lengthy excerpt from Adam Lashinsky's forthcoming book, Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired -- and Secretive -- Company Really Works, highlighting the company's famous secrecy and how its organizational structure and policies foster that security.

Those readers interested in reading the book from cover to cover when it debuts next week may want to avoid the excerpt, but for others the piece is an interesting look into how Apple keeps its employees on a need-to-know basis with a patchwork of clearances to ensure that very few know the company's full plans for a given project.
Secrecy takes two basic forms at Apple -- external and internal. There is the obvious kind, the secrecy that Apple uses as a way of keeping its products and practices hidden from competitors and the rest of the outside world. This cloaking device is the easier of the two types for the rank and file to understand because many companies try to keep their innovations under wraps. Internal secrecy, as evidenced by those mysterious walls and off-limits areas, is tougher to stomach. Yet the link between secrecy and productivity is one way that Apple (AAPL) challenges long-held management truths and the notion of transparency as a corporate virtue.
The excerpt discusses Apple's command and control structure in which there is reportedly relatively little political maneuvering, with the company's "unwritten caste system" placing Jonathan Ive's industrial design team among the "untouchable" and the status of many other teams fluctuating relative to the prominence of the products they are working on.

Inside Apple debuts on January 25 and will be available from retailers such as Amazon (hardcover, Kindle e-book, and CD audiobook) and Apple's iBookstore [iTunes Store].

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

34 months ago
Usually in the context of of a caste system, isn't "untouchable" very low - people you don't want to touch who do things like sewerage or collecting dead bodies? Here it is used for very high (untouchable as in above the rules for ordinary workers).
Rating: 10 Votes
34 months ago
kinda ironic how a book about apple secrecy is being sold on the iBookstore :p
Rating: 5 Votes
34 months ago

Usually in the context of of a caste system, isn't "untouchable" very low - people you don't want to touch who do things like sewerage or collecting dead bodies? Here it is used for very high (untouchable as in above the rules for ordinary workers).


Um...they do know, don't they, that the "untouchable" caste was the lowest of the low, suitable only for doing the worst dirty jobs?

Edit: hah, ninja'd!


:rolleyes:

Leave the thinking to those of us capable of understanding context.
Rating: 4 Votes
34 months ago

Unless the author previously worked for Apple (definitely would have had to been a 'higher-up'), how in the world would he know about Apple's inner-workings? I'm not buying it literally nor figuratively.


He was able to talk directly with Jobs via late night 800-number spiritual mediums, so it's all the honest truth. You don't get a trusted source any better then Madam Cleo.
Rating: 4 Votes
34 months ago
Hmm slow news day?
Rating: 4 Votes
34 months ago
Um, if you're going to use the caste system as a metaphor, then in that context "untouchable" means the exact opposite of what was intended.

----------

Neither do oppresion or censorship.


How, exactly, does Apple oppress you?
Rating: 4 Votes
34 months ago
I think the author is referring to Ive's team as 'untouchable' because that's how they are known within Apple, not with regard to the caste system.
Rating: 3 Votes
34 months ago
Fixed.

How Apple's Organizational Structure and Policies Contribute to Company's Strict Secrecy . . . and unprecedented success

The "secrecy" does not exist on its own, without a purpose.
Rating: 2 Votes
34 months ago

Neither do oppresion or censorship.


Your avatar needs a tinfoil hat instead of a stocking hat. ;)
Rating: 2 Votes
34 months ago

In those instances Apple has a pretty liberal return policy, and an even more liberal exchange policy.

But shouldn't you have already known that, having "worked both for Apple Retail and Corporate"? :p


Sure, they've got good policies there, but that doesn't stop people who *just* bought the old model yesterday from being PO'd. It just makes it easier to take that PO'd customer and turn them into a satisfied one.
Rating: 2 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]