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Donna Dubinsky and Apple Computer - Distribution Division Conflicts

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Donna Dubinsky and Apple Computer, Inc. and

Distribution Division Conflicts

Introduction and Background

The "Donna Dubinsky and Apple Computer" case is an example of how a company can get affected when there are communication problems in the company. Apple Inc. is a computer company that was founded in 1976, which offered an easy-to-use Apple II, a home and educational computer. Then, in 1984, a Macintosh was introduced and with that the company was broken down to two main divisions. Apple II was led by Del Yocam and the Macintosh division was led by Steve Jobs. The problems started when Steve Jobs became a Chairman on the Board of Directors and the head of Mac division, thus creating a conflict of interest. Since the sales and profits of the Mac division's products were not where they were projected, Steve Jobs tried to focus company's management on the distribution division changes, causing confusion and conflicts on the management level. Donna Dubinsky, who joined Apple Inc. in July of 1981, became a Director of Distribution and Sales Administration in April 1985. She built the current distribution system and was responsible for an implementation of any changes in the division. However, Steve Jobs did not inform Dubinsky and Weaver, Dubinsky's manager, about the reasons for changes he was pushing forward. Bill Campbell, who was an EVP of US Sales, was in a difficult position since his team, Weaver and Dubinsky, were attacked but he had no alternative plan to support them.

Donna Dubinsky's Success

Donna Dubinsky success in the company was attributed to her high education and skills that she brought into the company. Her mentor, Roy Weaver, attributed to Dubinsky's success by supporting, challenging, and rewarding her. Dubinsky and Weaver had a great chemistry together, which helped them achieve common goals; Weaver was giving advices but also providing flexibility and freedom for Dubinsky. Dubinsky's success is not unusual for the type of company like Apple; she came in when there were some flaws in the systems but mostly it was working fine. When the company has issues with one of the divisions, the person who comes in will have harder time since he or she will have to start from nothing, but the person will have more flexibility since there is nothing to be compared new system to. Dubinsky had confidence and passion in her beliefs. She had a great education and she knew her division. Also, she was willing to work as long as it takes to get the best results. Thus, she was a very valuable worker to the company. Management of the company realized very quickly that Dubinsky is a pro in what she does and that helped her fast career growth. In addition, since the company's management was changing so often and quick, she was able to make decisions even if they were out of her authority levels and nobody was challenging her. Therefore, after acting like a Director and making decisions as a Director, she was promoted to a Director of Distribution and Sales Administration. Dubinsky's success was due to her exceptional work drive, her decision-making quality, support from her manager, and unstable and often changing upper management.

Major Issues

The case covers few major issues such as changes proposed by Steve Jobs had no justifications, power struggle in the company, and Donna Dubinsky's handling of the situation.

It is very obvious that the company had some organizational problems. Steve Jobs had too much influence on the decisions in the company. He also made it look like the Mac division and its need were superior to other divisions and their needs. The way he approached the changes issue was bullish and pushy, which affected morale of the company and distribution's division in particular. He did not provide any reasons why the current system that was implemented by Dubinsky had to be changed, thus causing resentment from her and her division. It seemed like he liked the idea of just-in-time (JIT) without analyzing its effectiveness and feasibility for the company.

Another issue is Donna Dubinsky's mindset on being always supported by her manager. It seemed from the case that whatever ideas she was bringing in Weaver let her go for it. Therefore, constant support from Weaver might have impaired Dubinsky's ability of critical thinking and made her defensive when Steve Jobs proposed changes. When Dubinsky was faced with the dilemma between doing what she thought was right for the company or following the upper management suggestions, she became very defensive. Her reaction and actions caused a lot of stress and tension in the department.

The way it was presented in the case, Dubinsky's reaction was more emotional than professional. However, there was no mention about the presentation that she put together to convince the management team of her position. As it stated in the case "Campbell was frustrated because he knew Jobs was pushing Sculley to accept Coleman's plan, and Campbell had no alternative plan from his group to offer Sculley; Weaver was weary, Dubinsky, who had never understood why the reins had been taken from her hands in the first place and given to a task force, was beginning to consider jobs in other companies" (Jick, Gentile, 1995). There was no team effort to solve the problem, Jobs wanted his way or no way, Campbell wanted to solve the issue and move on but he was not protecting his team, Weaver was lost and did not take any charge of the situation, and Dubinsky just kept going over and over about the fact that it was her responsibility to implement any new systems and that it was taken from her.

I understand how she felt when Jobs made a proposal of eliminating current system with JIT system. She build the system, it was working fine, it was her "baby" that she felt she had to protect. Also, she felt that new system will paralyze the company and will cause major profitability disaster. There



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