Donna Dubinsky – Apple Computer
Steven Covey captured it best in his quote, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Covey’s insightful comment captured the essence of Dubinsky’s challenges as she experienced the tech industry and the power struggles at Apple during her tenure there. Donna Dubinsky entered into the ranks of Apple Computer in July, 1981. Apple, at that time was a robust tech firm holding market share at 40%. In an interview in later years Dubinsky reflected on why she entered into the field of technology and stated, “Growth. I had learned as a banker [at Philadelphia National Bank] that most career opportunities are presented by areas that are growing quickly, and the personal computer industry fit that description” (Harvard Business School Bulletin, June 2001).
In retrospect, would Dubinsky say she was prepared for the challenges that she would experience during her time at Apple? Or would she admit that her time there was a screen test that prepared her for her collaboration with Jeff Hawkins, the creator of the Palm Pilot and Visor. What would she have done differently? Were the challenges that she met unique in her grooming as a novitiate in the growing tech industry? In order to respond to these questions we must begin to look at the infrastructure and culture of Apple and the readings assigned which provide background to the roles individuals play within emerging, fluid organizations.
Like looking through a telescope from the wrong end, we can begin to see the detailed movement and strategies that made Apple successful. Like all tech industries, positions in the hierarchy of the company were very fluid. So fluid that in the case of Apple it was stated that they rarely created an organizational chart because the company was in a constant flux as it reorganized to meet production and distribution demands. As an example, when market share began to spiral, Jobs brought in John Sculley a successful executive from PepsiCo to