09 Mar Going to the Dogs Let’s admit it: With very few exceptions, we all love dogs. We love to be with our dogs, and our dogs love to be with us. So it is only natural, then, to want to keep o
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Case Study 1. Going to the Dogs
Let’s admit it: With very few exceptions, we all love dogs. We love to be with our dogs, and our dogs love to be with us. So it is only natural, then, to want to keep our dogs with us as much as possible, even when we go to work. Pet Sitters International thinks this is such a good idea that it has instituted “Take Your Dog to Work Day,” a once-a-year event designed to raise awareness of the benefits of dog ownership and to encourage pet adoption.
But maybe you would like something a bit more regular, like having the option to bring Fido to work every day? According to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, it should not be too hard to find an opportunity: Nearly one in five companies already allows pets in the workplace. You can even find a list of employers that allow canines at work on DogFriendly.com. Fans of the dogs-at-the-office policy say it increases employee morale and decreases stress.
Before we go too far with this idea, however, perhaps we should take note of some arguments against bringing dogs to work. First, some HR experts like Ethan Winning have cautioned that dogs can be messy, placing an unfair burden on employers to clean up after they have been present in the office. Dogs can also be a distraction, and other employees may be allergic or otherwise disturbed by them. And what happens when two or more employees bring their dogs to work on the same day, and Fido and Fifi don’t want to play nice?
Of course, some people actually need to bring their dogs to work, which is why the Americans with Disabilities Act permits the use of “service animals” to assist persons with disabilities. For example, guide dogs are allowed to accompany blind individuals at work. The EEOC guideline is reasonable because guide dogs are necessary to blind individuals and, furthermore, these dogs are trained not to be a nuisance.
It can be challenging for employers to know where to draw the line. Take the case of Elizabeth Booth, a quadriplegic individual hired by Case Services Corporation as an accountant in the billing department. Booth, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, has trained her small, well-behaved dog to pick up small items that Booth has dropped. Along with a formal request to be allowed to bring her dog to work to assist her, Booth submitted to her employer a letter from her doctor stating that the dog would help relieve Booth’s stress. When Case Services’ HR director denied the request, Booth immediately filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, claiming the company did not provide reasonable accommodation to her disability or her health needs.
When it comes to establishing a pet policy, as is so often the case, balancing the employer’s needs and responsibilities with the employees’ needs and wants presents something of a dilemma.
- What is your position on this issue? Provide two or three reasons to support your argument.
- If you were an HR manager of a company, what pet policy would you set, and how would you implement it?
- How would you decide the case of Elizabeth Booth, and which laws would you base your decision on? Explain.
Case Study 2. Apple’s Design Team
In a surprise notice issued late on Thursday, June 20, 2019, Apple announced that its chief design officer, Jonathan “Jony” Ive, would be leaving the company later in the year. Ive was the man behind the design team that created Apple’s most iconic products—the iMac, the MacBook, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Apple Watch. Working side by side with Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs, Ive led what was arguably the most successful design team in the history of business, and the inspiration for a whole new generation of consumer electronics. It was not an exaggeration to say that the work of his design team had rescued Apple from the edge of the abyss, and made it one of the most highly valued companies in the world. And now Ive was moving on.
Apple’s storied history is fairly well known. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer in 1976. After disrupting the industry and setting a new course for personal computing, the company struggled, and Jobs and Wozniak left the company in 1985. Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 and put the company on a different trajectory, increasing Apple’s emphasis on innovation and design.
Jobs began searching for talent, and he wanted A+ players he could use to build his design team. Up until that time, the company had partnered with firms outside of Apple to design its products. But Jobs wanted to bring the work in-house. Jobs and Ive had a remarkable first meeting; the two just clicked. “I can’t really remember that happening really ever before,” Ive said. “It was the most bizarre thing, where we were both perhaps a little—a little bit odd. We weren’t used to clicking.”
The iMac was Jobs’s and Ive’s first big hit in 1998. Both men knew they were redesigning not just Apple’s flagship computer, but the company itself. As Steven Levy put it, the iMac “was the beginning of a succession of products that changed the expectations not just of technology design but the role of design in consumer products.”
Jobs and Ive had complementary styles and complementary strengths. “Ive could translate futuristic concepts into physical objects with simplicity and sophistication. . . . Jobs was the inspiration and the editor needed to bring these ideas to life.” Ive was generally reserved, while Jobs was famously charismatic. His reputation was “one of almost maniacal micro-management when it came to creating a new product and of almost Barnum-like mastery of hoopla and razzmatazz when it came to selling.”
But Jobs and Ive were alike in their design philosophies: both put beauty before everything else. As Ive described it, “We think alike about how products should be made to look pure and seamless.” For both, less was more. “In so many ways, we’re trying to get the object out of the way,” Ive said. Both Jobs and Ive were equally passionate about big ideas and small details. They didn’t just care about how a product looked from the outside; they were focused on the complete picture, inside and out.
Their offices were right next to each other, and they often ate lunch and took walks together, discussing new projects and plans. Ive recalled, “Steve used to say to me—and he used to say this a lot—‘Hey, Jony, here’s a dopey idea.’ And sometimes they were: really dopey. Sometimes they were truly dreadful. But sometimes they took the air from the room, and they left us both completely silent. Bold, crazy, magnificent ideas. Or quiet, simple ones which, in their subtlety, their detail, they were utterly profound.” Matt Rogers, who developed software for the iPhone and iPad between 2007 and 2010, said, “Most of the greatest debates at Apple happened between those two as they walked together.”
The Design Team
Ive’s 20-person design team was the epicenter of Apple’s great run of iconic products. An eclectic group, the team members included Eugene Whang, who moonlighted as a DJ; Julian Hönig, who previously had designed Lamborghinis; Jody Akana, who specialized in color; and Bart André, who had more design patents than any other Apple employee.
Although the group expanded somewhat over the years, it remained very loyal. In almost two decades, only two designers had ever left the studio. Given that special mix of talent, losing an individual designer was a big loss. Three recruiters were specifically assigned to identify and recruit new designers; they were uber-selective, onboarding only about one new member per year.
As a rule, the design team worked apart from the rest of the company: it was fairly insular from others, even secretive. Team members were not allowed to discuss their work with friends, but shared virtually everything with each other. Although each designer had a specialty, and each project had a team leader, they cross-pollinated continuously, and everyone contributed to one another’s work, sharing the credit. The team typically worked long 12-hour days, obsessing over elements of design—the shape of curves, the angle of displays, even the color palette of package materials. The team described itself as a family, socialized together after work, and created a “work hard, play hard” culture that continued for years.
Ive described his role as lying between two extremes of design leadership: he was not the source of all creativity, nor did he merely assess the proposals of colleagues. The big ideas were often his, and he had an opinion about every detail. Team meetings were held two or three times a week, and Ive encouraged candor. “We put the product ahead of anything else,” he said.
Reflecting Ive’s style, the design team members worked quietly and brilliantly, and rarely gained public recognition. By all accounts, they liked it that way. They liked the creative work, not the hype. As designer Richard Howarth described it, “It’s not like the weight of the world’s on our shoulders. Jony set it up so that it’s a little—it’s freer than you might imagine.”
However, the design team enjoyed a level of influence at Apple unimaginable at other firms. At most tech companies, engineering dictates product development. At Apple, it was the other way around. “Ive often gave concepts to Apple’s engineering department, telling them to make the product design possible.” Designers reigned supreme.
Ive also changed the process by which design was created. As Brunner put it, design had been “a vertical stripe in the [value] chain of events” in a product’s creation. But at Apple, Ive shaped it to become “a long horizontal stripe, where design is part of every conversation.”
The team obsessed over the designs, understanding the importance of iteration. “Everything we make I could describe as being partially wrong, because it’s not perfect. . . . We get to do it again. That’s one of the things Steve and I used to talk about: ‘Isn’t this fantastic? Everything we aren’t happy about, with this, we can try and fix.’”
The End of an Era
Steve Jobs died in October 2011, succumbing to a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Ive was by his side when he passed away. Ive remained the creative soul of Apple, and in the absence of Jobs, he had more responsibility. Ive’s role expanded “from strictly physical industrial design to digital user interface as well.” In other words, he was in charge of both hardware and software design. He had a much bigger team reporting to him, and his impact was immense.
But something had changed within Apple, and within Ive himself. The pace of work, and the cadence within the design studio, slowed. Ive acknowledged the change, too. To regain momentum, Ive began pushing to make a watch, intrigued by miniaturization of the iPhone’s powerful technology. “He met with the team almost daily and immersed in detail, helping dream up the distinctive, hexagonal grid of apps that morphed as people scrolled.”
After the Apple Watch launched in 2015, Ive met with his team. He “thanked them for their work, and said 2014 had been one of his most challenging years at Apple. In an interview with The New Yorker, Ive confessed to being “deeply tired.” The staff beneath him had ballooned to hundreds of people. He wanted “time and space to think.”
In the summer of 2015, Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, promoted Ive to chief design officer, in recognition of his expanded design responsibilities, including hardware, human interface, packaging, retail stores, and the company’s new spaceship-inspired campus in Cupertino, California. Day-to-day responsibilities were assumed by two veterans from Ive’s team.
Apple said little publicly about the change. But internally, it proved disruptive. As part of the deal, Cook agreed that Ive would be less present at the company. He traveled to headquarters only a day or two per week, and he often set up meetings closer to his homes. People noticed. “The team craved being around him,” said a person close to Apple leadership. “He’s engaging. [His] being around less was disappointing.” Indeed, designers viewed approval from their new leaders as merely tentative; they had looked forward to Ive’s promised monthly “design weeks,” but Ive rarely showed up.
When the company was preparing for the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, the designers gathered in a San Francisco penthouse chosen specifically for its proximity to Ive’s home, so that they could demonstrate planned features of the new iPhone to Ive. For nearly three hours, the team waited for Ive to show up. After he finally arrived, he listened to the presentations, but left without answering their key questions. The team was frustrated. “Many of us were thinking: How did it come to this?” said a person at the meeting. “There was a sense that Jony was gone but reluctant to hand over the reins.”
For his part, Tim Cook worked to keep Ive engaged and committed to the organization, in part with a pay package that far exceeded that of other top Apple executives—a point of friction for others on the executive team. And cracks started to show in his design team as well. Several members left over the next few years. Their departures heralded a new era.
On June 20, 2019, Ive gathered his design team in their new headquarters at Apple Park. He explained that he was leaving the company, and answered their questions. Just like old times, the gathering felt like family, and it was a fitting way for the design chief to say goodbye.
- What made Apple’s design team so unique? How did the members work together? What made it so successful
- What happened to the team? How could Apple have prevented its decay?
- Now that there is a new team, what should Apple do to recreate the magic?
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