Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve
Co-founder & CEO @ Alan
17 nov 2020Jean-Charles' Newsletters

JCNews #46 - Apple, organisation, innovation

Chers amis, fans de bonnes lectures,

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Cette semaine encore, je vous propose mes lectures les plus intéressantes, en mettant notamment l’accent sur un article principal et en vous partageant mon avis dessus. J’espère que cela vous sera utile.

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💡Must-read de la semaine

👉 L’organisation d’Apple pour l’innovation (HBR)

How Apple moved to a functional organization?
It grew from some 8,000 employees and $7 billion in revenue in 1997, the year Steve Jobs returned, to 137,000 employees and $260 billion in revenue in 2019.
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.
Apple Organization
What is surprising—in fact, remarkable—is that Apple retains it today, even though the company is nearly 40 times as large in terms of revenue and far more complex than it was in 1998. Senior vice presidents are in charge of functions, not products.
__As was the case with Jobs before him, CEO Tim Cook occupies the only position on the organizational chart where the design, engineering, operations, marketing, and retail of any of Apple’s main products meet.
In effect, besides the CEO, the company operates with no conventional general managers: people who control an entire process from product development through sales and are judged according to a P&L statement.__

Le positionnement d’Apple est très différent de la plupart des entreprises, et de notre organisation en “Units” (même si nous avons un mélange d’”Units” et de “Communities”). C’est pour ça qu’Apple se concentre sur très peu de produits à la fois. L’article n’explique pas clairement comment ils s’organisent autour d’un produit, et comment ils décident le lancement de nouveaux produits.

Functional expertise
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. Long before it can get market feedback and solid market forecasts, the company must make bets about which technologies and designs are likely to succeed in smartphones, computers, and so on.

J’ai beaucoup aimé ce focus sur Construire de l'expertise. J’ai le sentiment que, d’une certaine manière, c’est ce que nous faisons avec nos produits et nos communautés.

What is the target?
Instead of using overall cost and price targets as fixed parameters within which to make design and engineering choices, R&D leaders are expected to weigh the benefits to users of those choices against cost considerations.
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 right.
Three key leadership characteristics: deep expertise that allows them to meaningfully engage in all the work being done within their individual functions; immersion in the details of those functions; and a willingness to collaboratively debate other functions during collective decision-making.
It is a company where experts lead experts.

C’est très lié à deux de nos leadership principles : l’ownership distribué (à propos de qui prend la décision finale), et le member-first. Quand des experts dirigent des experts il faut être vraiment bon pour former à certaines compétences de management.

How to make a decision?
Apple has hundreds of specialist teams across the company, dozens of which may be needed for even one key component of a new product offering. For example, the dual-lens camera with portrait mode required the collaboration of no fewer than 40 specialist teams.
How on earth does Apple develop and ship products that require such coordination? 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.

“Collaborative debate” est une bonne appellation. Nous travaillons de façon transversale pour lancer des fonctionnalités depuis les crews.

Accountability without control
You’re accountable for making the project succeed even though you don’t control all the other teams. This process can be messy yet produce great results.

J’aime beaucoup ce terme. C’est très proche des discussions que nous avons régulièrement à propos de nos OKRs. Quand on n’est pas owner, mais qu’on est quand même responsable du résultat.

The role of the CEO
Deciding how to organize areas of expertise to best enable collaboration and rapid decision-making has been an important responsibility of the CEO.
Apple has been quite disciplined about limiting the number of senior positions to minimize how many leaders must be involved in any cross-functional activity. 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.

C’est très impressionnant de constater qu’ils n’ont fait que doubler le nombre de VPs.

How leaders split their time?
Apple Leaders Time
For activities in the delegating box, he assembles teams, agrees on objectives, monitors and reviews progress, and holds the teams accountable: the stuff of general management.
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. Rosner estimates that he spends about 40% of his time on activities he owns (including collaboration with others in a given area), about 30% on learning, about 15% on teaching, and about 15% on delegating. These numbers vary by manager, of course, depending on their business and the needs at a given time.

Leur division du temps est intéressante et pourrait être utilisée comme exemple pour la self-organization. Être intentionnel sur l’organisation de son temps est vraiment important. Quelques astuces.

🏯Construire une entreprise

En plus d’articles triés sur le volet, je partage un principe de leadership d’Alan par semaine. Le même que je partage en interne et à nos investisseurs tous les mercredis.

👉 Savoir aller à contre-courant, et avoir souvent raison (Healthy Business)

  • La prise de décision par consensus est pour nous rédhibitoire. On ne construit pas une entreprise pour flatter ou préserver les sensibilités de son équipe ou de ses clients, on la construit au service d’une cause ou d’une vision en laquelle on croit.
  • Cette semaine, nous avons eu un très bon exemple en poussant rapidement une solution pour fournir un soutien psychologique à nos Membres.
  • C’est arrivé car une personne a brisé le consensus, a fait confiance à ses tripes et à son jugement. Si vous travaillez chez Alan, c'est parce que nous sommes convaincus que vous avez un bon jugement. C'est une responsabilité, mais c'est aussi un grand pouvoir.

👉 Pourquoi il faut être excellent dans son job actuel avant d’aller vers son prochain rôle. Excellent apprentissage et outil pour discuter les changements de rôle en interne. (Twitter)

  • In 2004 I had an offer to join the new Kindle team at Amazon and I jumped at the opportunity. I was on our retail team at the time -> Kindle was new/sexy. But a week before I was scheduled to start my new job, I was told to stay put and I learned an important lesson.
  • 2 years earlier I had been given P&L responsibility for Amzn’s cell phone store. We sold phones + plans (like Car Warehouse and Best Buy). This was Amzn’s highest margin biz, but it was tiny and not growing and I was told it could get shut down. I had 6 mos to turn it around.
  • The industry model at that time was give phones for free w/ service plan attach. I reinvested the service plan margin to make phones less than free, and rev growth exploded. GM % plummeted, but profit $ went way up. My little biz was our fastest growing segment at Amzn!
  • 18 months later, others starting copying us and growth stalled. When I got the offer to work on Kindle, I jumped at it. Not only would I have the chance to launch a new biz, I could walk away from my current biz and let someone else clean up the mess. But then...
  • Diego P. (WW head of retail) called me into his office.He explained you don’t get rewarded with new opportunities when you’re doing a bad job. He would allow me to join Kindle team, as soon as I got my current biz back on track and hired a successor who was stronger than me.

🗞Dans l’actu

📱Monde des technologies

👉 Magic Leap et comment son CEO s’est fait sortir : une très grande vision, peu de connexion à la réalité, n’ont pas vendu au bon moment (Bloomberg)

👉 Email du CEO de CircleUp à un ancien board member qui décrit tous les comportements nocifs (Lien)

👉 Un iPhone X contrefait à 100$ : où l’imagination de recréer un iPhone sur Android (Vice)

🏥 Santé

👉 Oscar Health dévoile son 0$ Virtual Primary Care program pour 2021 (Fierce)

  • Oscar Health is planning to expand into 19 new markets and four new states in 2021.
  • Oscar unveiled its new $0 Virtual Primary Care, which will offer a slew of digital and in-home services to its individual and family plan members.
  • Members will have unlimited access to virtual visits with dedicated Oscar primary care providers for $0, as well as no cost for tier-one prescriptions, durable medical equipment, labs, diagnostic imaging and initial specialty care referrals from Oscar providers.
  • The primary care program will also offer vitals monitoring kits and in-home lab draws at no cost when ordered by Oscar primary care providers.


👉 Déconfinez votre assurance santé ! (Blog) : on vous explique tout sur pourquoi la résiliation infra-annuelle est une révolution dans l’assurance santé.

📕📺Livres et séries

Je vous prépare des fiches de lecture sur 7 powers et The Great Mental Models, j’attends vos suggestions pour les prochaines !

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