An interesting fact emerged during the trial over Epic's lawsuit against Apple: when asked to give more detail about the profitability of the Apple Store, Tim Cook explained that this was impossible because expenses aren't tracked by business unit. The Apple Store does not have its own P&L (profit and loss statement).
Really? Most business experts would likely contest that it's not possible to run a company the size of Apple without doing this. So why not?
Back in 1997, the year Steve Jobs rejoined Apple, every business unit had its own P&L. However, once back at the helm, Jobs didn't want the different divisions fighting over where to allocate costs. He didn't want managers' primary concern being whether their division was making a profit, regardless of the overall company's profitability and health. Back in '97 every business unit was reporting they were profitable, yet the company was losing $1 billion a year.
Jobs decided to put the company on one P&L, getting rid of arguments and infighting over cost attribution across the different parts of the company. With Apple also being organised by function rather than business unit, teams were - and are now - more able to focus on product and customer experience, rather than having to respond to financial pressures. As Harvard Business Review puts it "The bonuses of senior R&D executives are based on companywide performance numbers rather than the costs of or revenue from particular products. Thus product decisions are somewhat insulated from short-term financial pressures. The finance team is not involved in the product road map meetings of engineering teams, and engineering teams are not involved in pricing decisions."
Clearly Jobs made lots of extremely important product-based decisions, but we'd argue that this one decision was pivotal in bringing about Apple's current success. What Jobs did with this decision was take away a layer of fragmentation that was causing problems, which in itself was an insightful thing to spot. As David Bohm put it, "Thought thinks it's a problem out there: I must solve it. Now, that doesn't make sense, because simultaneously thought is doing all the activities which make the problem and then does another set of activities to try to overcome it. You see, it doesn't stop doing the things which are making the ecological problem, or the national problem, or... whatever the problem is. If we can have a coherent approach to reality then reality will respond coherently to us and we can produce the results we intend rather than the results we don't really want."
In making this decision, Jobs also shifted the decision making environment, creating a foundational nudge for the company going forwards.
I'm curious to know how relevant Bohm's 'thought is making the problem AND trying to solve it' is in your world of work. Where might thought be both creating a problem and fuelling the actions to deal with it? Because of the way thought invisibly makes problems, most don't notice, and forge ahead trying to get rid of them with more thinking, and associated action. Yet it's within all of our grasps to take a look into this invisible world, with the potential to simply dissolve the problems we're experiencing.
Had Jobs not made this particular decision perhaps we would never have seen iMacs, iPods and iPhones. Arguably this was the one decision that changed everything.