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)
Avatar
112 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).
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
112 months ago
kinda ironic how a book about apple secrecy is being sold on the iBookstore :p
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
112 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.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
112 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?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
112 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.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
112 months ago

Hmm slow news day?


AAww I wanted to make this lame comment but you beat me to it.

----------

Those readers interested in reading the book from cover to cover when it debuts next week may want to avoid the excerpt,


For those looking for a good book to read you may want to avoid reading this book.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Takes Legal Action Against Small Company With Pear Logo

Saturday August 8, 2020 11:09 am PDT by
Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the app "Prepear" due to its logo, according to iPhone in Canada. Prepear is an app that helps users discover recipes, plan meals, make lists, and arrange grocery deliveries. The app is a spinoff of "Super Healthy Kids," and the founders claim that they are facing litigation from Apple. Apple reportedly takes issue with Prepear's logo, ...

Kuo: Global iPhone Shipments Could Decline Up to 30% If Apple Forced to Remove WeChat From App Store [Updated x2]

Sunday August 9, 2020 10:17 pm PDT by
In a worst-case scenario, Apple's annual global iPhone shipments could decline by 25–30% if it is forced to remove WeChat from its App Stores around the world, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo viewed by MacRumors. The removal could occur due to a recent executive order aiming to ban U.S. transactions with WeChat and its parent company Tencent. Kuo lays out...

Google Maps Debuts New Apple Watch App and CarPlay Features

Monday August 10, 2020 9:16 am PDT by
Google today announced the launch of several features for Google Maps on Apple products, including new CarPlay functionality and a new Google Maps app that works on Apple Watch. The new Google Maps app for Apple Watch works similarly to the iOS app, allowing Apple Watch owners to get directions for a car, bike, public transit, or on foot. The app supports estimated arrival times and...

2020 iMac Teardown Reveals Internal Changes and Similarities

Saturday August 8, 2020 12:44 pm PDT by
A teardown video, shared by OWC, reveals the internal changes in the new 2020 27-inch iMac. The 2020 27-inch iMac was announced earlier this week with 10th-generation Intel Core processors, AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage, a 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, higher fidelity speakers, and...

Apple Seeds iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Public Beta 4 to Testers

Thursday August 6, 2020 10:05 am PDT by
Apple today seeded new public betas of upcoming iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates to its public beta testing group. Today's software releases, which Apple labels as fourth betas to keep them in line with developer betas, are actually the third betas that Apple has provided and they come two weeks after the prior beta releases. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing...

Apple Believes This German Cycling Path Logo Infringes on Its Own Logo

Wednesday May 1, 2019 9:51 am PDT by
Apple recently objected to the logo of a new German cycling path in an appeal filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office, according to German outlets General-Anzeiger Bonn and Westdeutscher Rundfunk. Apple reportedly takes issue with the logo's green leaf and supposed "bitten" right side, attributes the company believes are too similar to its own logo. The logo, registered with the ...

Supposed iPhone 12 Display Unit Leaks

Thursday August 6, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
An image supposedly of an iPhone 12 display unit has been shared online by leaker "Twitter user Mr. White". Compared to images of an iPhone 11 Pro display piece, this new unit has a reoriented display connector, reaching up from the bottom of the display, rather than from the left-hand side on iPhone 11 Pro. This may be due to the logic board moving to the other side of the device. A...

Foxconn Reportedly Begins Seasonal Hiring Spree for iPhone 12 Production

Monday August 10, 2020 7:03 am PDT by
Apple's largest manufacturing partner Foxconn has begun its seasonal hiring spree to assist with iPhone 12 production, offering employees who recruit qualified applicants up to a 9,000 yuan bonus, according to Chinese media reports. As usual, Foxconn needs as many hands on deck as possible at its factory in Zhengzhou, China to assist with mass production of the upcoming iPhones. Apple is...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

New 27-Inch iMac's Storage Affixed to Logic Board, 4TB and 8TB Configurations Have Expansion Connector

Friday August 7, 2020 7:46 am PDT by
Following a report from German blog iFun.de that claimed the new 27-inch iMac's flash storage is soldered to the logic board, MacRumors has obtained additional information in an internal document for Apple technicians. In the document, Apple says that the flash storage is indeed affixed to the logic board and cannot be removed. However, for the 4TB and 8TB configurations, Apple says that a...