Learning and Development in Apple

The business environment is becoming more and more competitive every day. In such an environment, it is exceedingly valuable to have a highly qualified workforce, which is better in all senses than that of competitor.  Learning and development facilitate the ability to have an intensely competitive workforce. Depending on the industry, learning and development are also called the human resource development because the activities of learning involve the personnel of the organization. Every organization should create a learning culture, which will enable individuals and organization to acquire knowledge from different sources. Organizations must be able to plan and develop programs that should be deployed in all the organizational functions. The development programs have to be easily evaluated with a given report given (Dimaggio 2002).

Learning involves the processes of acquisition and development of new knowledge, capability, skills, attitudes and behaviours. It can be argued that learning occurs, when people are able to do things, which they could not do before. It involves the realization and understanding of facts. It is a continuous process that enables people to be given more responsibilities in the future (Mentkowski 2000).

Development comprises the growth of person’s potential and ability through various learning experiences. It is a process that involves individual acquisition of a higher- level knowledge, skills and competencies (Clifford 2007).

Thus, learning and development is the process of gaining and developing skills, behaviours, attitudes and capabilities through events, experiences and programs facilitated by the organization, as well as coaching and guidance provided by managers and other responsible personnel. The main goal of learning and development is to ensure that the workforce of organization has proper skills and knowledge. Training is contradicted with learning sometimes. Training is a formal process, which helps people to acquire necessary skills and knowledge in order to perform optimally in the organization. As such, training is among the tools that are used to facilitate and encourage learning (Clifford 2007).

Organizations should have a learning and development strategy to ensure that the organizational goals are achieved with the continuous improvement of capabilities and skills of individuals and teams. The strategies are aimed at the development of human capital in the organization. The strategy should not only promote the organizational goals but also pay attention to the needs of the employees. Therefore, the strategies must consider the aspirations and needs of people in order to develop and grow. The learning and development strategies have to develop a culture of learning in the organization. Learning culture involves a continuous process of education that is recognized by the management and employees. This forms a key part of the organizational functions. Learning culture is behavioural and includes both employees and management committing them to learning (Mentkowski 2000).

Learning and Development at Apple Inc

Apple Inc. is a multinational company, which was founded in 1976 in the Unites States. It is listed by Forbes as one of the most powerful brands in the world. It has a market capitalization of $545.97 billion. The number of employees is estimated at 60,400. The company has enjoyed huge success from 2007 after the launch of its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch products. The company operates as a monopsony (many sellers, one buyer). Depending on the latest innovations, it can dictate terms to its suppliers considering the high demand for its products (Gilbert 2012). Apple employees are experts in their field, and the majority of them do not have knowledge beyond their areas of expertise. The company has an efficient supply chain that has enabled the company to maintain huge profit margins. The company has had both good and bad times in the technology industry. Technologies develop very rapidly, and survival in such an industry requires continuous innovations that foresee changes in technology.  Therefore, the company is very effective in responding to market demand due to the highly experienced work force (Isaacson 2011).

This paper aims to discuss the impacts of learning and development in organization, outlining relevant learning theories in order to solve these issues in the organization and Apple Inc. as the case study. Learning and development will affect management style in the company. In order to comprehend the learning and development issue, it is evaluated through some learning and development theories.

Kolb’s Learning Theory

Kolb believes that learning composes of four stages. These four stages include experience, perception, cognition and behaviour. Thus, management style in Apple will aim to create knowledge through the transformation of experience. The learning process can begin at any stage, but it must be carried out as outlined below.          

Experience is translated into concepts by reflection, after which experimentation is possible through gained concepts. Thus, management style will concentrate on the activities of Apple employees. For example, through various workshops facilitated by the Apple executives, the employees will reflect all acquired knowledge and gained experience. They will summarise knowledge and finally apply it in the design and development of innovative and creative products. 

Kolb identified four learning styles. Management style that will be incorporated in Apple has to consider these learning styles for different employees. These styles are not based on fixed personal traits, but they complement the behaviour of employees in Apple. The styles include Assimilators. They are individuals, who will get the best knowledge from the learning process through the study of logical theories; as a result, some employees will need to understand the whole technological progress of Apple and the evolution of their products in order to maximize productivity in the company. Convergers are a group of people, who get optimum knowledge from the learning process through observing the practical application of concepts and theories; hence, some employees will have to observe the designing of Apple products in practice before they integrate into the design team. Accommodators are another group of individuals, who prefer hands-on experience for better learning; as such, Apple provides its employees with laboratories, in which they could come up with innovative products. In addition, divergers are a group of individuals, who require a wide range of information in order to study better (Clifford 2007). 

Apple employees are experts in their fields, and management style has greatly contributed to the emergence of various specialists with a wide range of experience in specific departments of the organization. Apple’s management style was inspired by Steve Jobs, who was a perfectionist aspired to the leading products in style and innovation. Through gained experience, the company will be able to incorporate the operating system and hardware in its operations. As a result, it will have a competitive edge for its employees, who can study faster than before (O'grady 2009).

In a nutshell, management style will focus on the expertise of employees, who affect the achievement of mission and vision of the company. The expertise in specific areas will enable the company to come up with creative and innovative products.

Skinner Learning Theory

This is a behaviourist theory based on the concept that behaviours, which will continue, are those that are reinforced while those that are punished will end.  According to Skinner, operant conditioning is used to modify the behaviour of individuals through positive or negative reinforcement (Harrison 2009). Apple’s management style will be mainly focused on the behaviour of individual employees. It will seek to modify the behaviour of individuals without thinking about their internal motivation to behave that way. Reinforcement will either be positive or negative. Positive reinforcement involves giving rewards or praises to individuals after a favourable outcome due to the desired behaviour. Negative reinforcement contains the removal of unpleasant or undesired outcome after the desired behaviour. As such, Apple should institute a reward program, which is aimed at recognizing the employees, who have made outstanding contributions in both management and technical areas of the company’s operations.

In addition, the company should ensure that it enforces the accountability of all its employees strictly. This will be possible through ensuring that each project has “directly responsible personnel”; this is the individual, who will be personally responsible for any errors in the project. This will promote a culture of perfection in Apple products (Isaacson 2011). Negative and positive punishments are aimed at reducing a given behaviour. This can be affected through ensuring that employees are responsible for their actions, and the consequences of wrong doings will involve measurers such as release from Apple.

In conclusion, management style in Apple will be influenced by the behaviour of individuals. Thus, it is necessary to dictate the behaviour of the employees early enough in order to mitigate the occurrence of some undesirable events.

Facilitation Theory

According to this theory, learning will occur, when there is an educator, who acts as a facilitator.  The work of educator/facilitator will create the environment, where learners will feel comfortable (Heaton 2006). The management style of Apple should incorporate the element of facilitation. This will be possible by having distinguished educators in the company. They can either be supervisors or managers. The educators will enable the employees of Apple to exploit new ideas through the effective learning process. As described by this theory, individuals are eager to acquire new knowledge. Thus, management style should incorporate measures that ensure the continuous participation of employees in training in order to fulfil their desires.

Employees will be able to change various concepts about themselves from the given lessons. The facilitation learning theory postulates the need of dialogue between educators and employees (Scott 2008). In order to achieve this, the company should include dialogue in its management style. There should be an opportunity for employees to be heard through a fearless feedback mechanism. From such feedback, management is able to understand their employees better. Management style can also incorporate a succession strategy, through which senior executives will facilitate the growth of junior managers to the positions of senior management.

In a nutshell, management style has to ensure that employees undergo various training programs for their skill’s development. It also must have a fearless feedback mechanism with its employees.

Sensory Stimulation Theory

This theory postulates that when senses are stimulated, learning will be enhanced. The most effective way includes the stimulation of visual sense. The management style of Apple will aim to connect with the emotions of employees and customers, as well. Employees should work in the favourable environment that minimizes boredom and ensures excitement to relive work pressure. E-learning should be incorporated in management style. Management style has to combine the effective and creative presentation of products to employees, which will help them identify themselves with Apple products (Wozniak 2006).

Management style should utilize the power of sensory simulation in the performance of the company’s operations. This will be for both internal and external functions. The proper presentation of Apple products will enhance the brand and demand for products.

Holistic Learning Theory

The personality of individual has many elements; some include imagination, emotions, intellect and personal desires. Learning is more effective, when individual elements are incorporated in the process (Mentkowski 2000). Firstly, management style should evaluate the personal traits of employees in the recruitment process. The individual characteristics must relate to culture of the company. Secondly, Apple should create a non-bureaucratic environment, in which employees will be able to express their thoughts and intellect in the designing of Apple products.

In a nutshell, management style has to meet at least some of the employee’s personal desires and expectations.

Designing a Learning Development Initiative

In designing the learning development initiative, the need for training or learning is firstly identified. The need can be identified in individuals, department, project team or entire organization. Analysis of the need can take three different approaches.

Organizational analysis is thee analysis of the organizational overall business strategy. The learning needs will be aimed at management.

Personal analysis will identify the need to improve employee skills, knowledge and abilities as a result of performance deficiencies. It may also involve the need to improve the employee’s morale.

Task analysis determines the behaviours that should be improved in caring out the tasks of employees. Perhaps, the employees are not able to complete their work.

Determination of the Audience Size

The learning initiative would predetermine the level of required training required or size of the learning program, which will be deployed. The groups may be small, medium or large.

Assessment of the Training Needs

Assessment would be done using a questionnaire in order to evaluate current skills related to communication, leadership, people, work, analytical skills, business skill and  customer focus.

Data Analysis

After the collection of data, specific needs will be recognized. The groups, which need training, will be identified and ranked according to importance.

Cost Benefit Analysis

Cost benefit analysis of the project will be undertaken to show the benefits and costs, which will be incurred. This will also act as a benchmark in analysing the effectiveness of human resource development. Lastly, training and learning requirements will be implemented.


The policy will identify the most critical areas in company that need human resource development. It will also undertake the data deficiencies in skills. This will enable the learning process to solve the relevant issues.


The document does not define the learning styles of different employees, and, thus, the used learning method may not be effective


•  Further research is essential to evaluate the characteristics of employees.

•  Learning should be a core part of any organizational functions.

•  Every organization should develop a learning culture.

In a nutshell, learning and development has become very significant in today’s competitive world. Thus, employees should undertake various training programs in order to improve their skills.


Learning and development are essential for every organization. The benefits gained from the human resource development enable organizations to grow tremendously. According to the five outlined learning and development theories, Apple can undertake various procedures in order to ensure that its management style is effective for all the functions of the company. The last part of this paper looks at the process of developing a learning initiative for the organization, which starts with the identification of the need to learn the cost and benefit analysis of the process.

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