Since the ‘iPad‘, Apple Inc.’s latest ‘creation’ is scheduled for launch on 3 April 2010 in the US markets (that’s a little over two weeks from now) the homepage of the company’s official website has been embellished with a few images and Flash animations of the iPad. Today when I visited the website, I didn’t expect to see anything other than that. But what I actually found on the homepage, immediately made an impact on me.
A screenshot of the Apple.com homepage on 19 March 2010 –
After watching this picture, I asked myself a question – how, and when does one choose appreciation of old colleagues over advertisements and profits? When is the last time we saw any company put up a condolence message in remembrance of a team member in a place specially designed for showcasing the company’s new products?
For the record, Jerome York was definitely a valued member of the Apple team, and also of many other teams he was associated with during his long career. Just the fact that he joined the ‘guidance-department’ of a struggling organization says a lot about him, and anybody who is familiar with the history of Apple during the troubled 90’s decade would agree that this was no mean feat. But my point is beyond what York did for Apple. By this one little gesture, the company has made a bold statement about how it values it’s staff. Just imagine the halo effect this will cause within the Apple employee base and it’s fraternity. This sort of recognition and appreciation goes way beyond what any financial bonuses or other similar sops can ever do to increase their morale.
I know what you are thinking, that Apple chose to honor York on it’s homepage only because he was situated high up on the corporate ladder with the Board of Directors of the company, that they would not think of doing such a thing for other lowly employees. Fair enough. I’m no Apple fanboy, but this gesture does not talk about the company’s practices, it talks about the company’s ‘attitude’. There are many other organizations and banks who have a Board of Directors. Likewise many members pass away during their tenure on the Board. How many times have we seen they being recognized in this fashion? During his career York also served as a CFO with Chrysler, as well as with IBM, and at least I haven’t yet seen a mention of his death on their websites.
Just as a home is not made by the walls but by people residing in it, a technology-oriented company is not made by computers but by the people working for it. History has often proved that the organizations that realize this are the ones who eventually make the largest profit from the market. It is quite ironic that this fact was conveniently forgotten during the recent worldwide economic recession, when these very employees were treated like the least important and most expendable commodities. Yes, even Apple has had to lay off a few employees during its 33 year history due to various reasons (most importantly – some bad management), but it is events and gestures like this one today which helps in retaining an intellectual employee base as well as developing a loyal user base, and probably even a cult.
Another example I can think of where past and present personalities are honored publicly, in a more intuitive way, is through the Doodles we see on the Google search homepage. IMDb.com too marks the passing away of people in the TV and Motion Pictures fraternity by putting up articles and links about them on it’s website homepage. But Apple’s gesture today, is something which will stay with me for a long time.