Four Principles of Apple’s Failures and Successes

As the story goes, when Steve Jobs looked around Apple in 2002, he saw a profusion of gadgets: cell phones, PDAs, and MP3 players (including Apple’s blockbuster, the iPod). In a flash of brilliance, he asked himself a world-changing question: What if all those functions could be combined in just one device? The answer to that insightful question led to Apple’s next hit: the Rokr cell phone.

Whoops, scratch that. The Rokr was a commercial flop, and Apple’s short-lived partnership to develop an MP3 cell phone with Motorola is now an embarrassing footnote. In no small part, the iPhone exists today because the Rokr threw the shortcomings of the mobile phone industry into sharp relief. Smelling the industry’s stagnation, Jobs began planning the iPhone, even as the Rokr drew withering criticism.

The above anecdote highlights one important thing to remember about Apple: Its aura of infallibility is pure bunkum. The other thing to remember is that Apple learns from its mistakes. In fact, mistakes are vital to its creative process. But what are the rules that govern this process? Here are four of the most important principles.

Principle One: Don’t Follow Your Customers; Lead Them
Principle Two: Temper Engineering With Art
Principle Three: Focus on the Few to Sell to the Many
Principle Four: Be Your Own Toughest Critic

Insanely Great Marketing

Apple is famous for its products, but shrewd marketing has been an essential component of the company’s success. Former Apple CEO John Sculley was not being entirely cynical with his famous observation that Apple was, first and foremost, a marketing company. While it’s fair to say that Apple’s engineers are the company’s foundation, it’s clear that without Apple’s marketing and public relations teams, its mythic aura would long since have vanished. Here’s how the company does it.

1. A Clear Sense of the Customer
2. No False Modesty
3. Standout Advertising
4. Not-Too-Public Public Relations

How to Innovate Like Apple

Apple makes it look easy. From the sleek design of its personal computers to the clever intuitiveness of its software to the ubiquity of the iPod to the genius of the iPhone, Apple consistently redefines each market it enters by creating brilliant gadgets that put the competition to shame. What’s the secret? Apple has built its management system so that it’s optimized to create distinctive products. That’s good news for would-be emulators, because it means Apple’s method for innovation can be understood as a specific set of management practices and organizational structures that — in theory, at least — anyone can use. This Crash Course outlines the techniques Apple uses to make the magic happen.

1. Clear Your Mind
GOAL: Understand what it takes to create truly remarkable products.
What is Apple’s fundamental soul? The company’s motto, “Think Different,”

2. Build Your Fortress
GOAL: Create the infrastructure you need to innovate.
Checklist to Different Managing
– Ignore fads.
– Don’t back down from fights you can win.
– Flatten sprawling hierarchies.
– Pay less attention to market research and competitors.

3. Cultivate Your Elite
GOAL: Empower your most valuable employees to do amazing work.

4. Don’t Rush, Don’t Dawdle
Goal: Prevent short-term, cyclical, or competitive pressures from overwhelming an effective strategy.
Plan B: Staying Cool When the Heat Is On

5. Clone Your Own Steve Jobs
GOAL: If you put a tyrannical perfectionist in charge, institutionalize his thinking.
How critical are those rare, world-changing “great leaders” whose efforts seem irreplaceable? Most historians now believe that great leaders are made by their circumstances and that their great deeds actually reflect the participation of thousands, or even millions, of people.

Sources:
1. Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company, by Owen Linzmayer
2. The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer, by Michael Moritz
3. iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had 4. Fun Doing It, by Steve Wozniak
5. Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas and the Future, by John Sculley
6. The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, by Alan Deutschman

How to Present Like Steve Jobs

Comparing a Steve Jobs presentation to most presentations is impossible — he’s in a league all his own. Apple’s chief executive is arguably the most charismatic pitchman in business today. His presentations are brilliant demonstrations of visual storytelling that turn customers, employees, and the entire computer industry into evangelists. The Apple website streams video of Jobs’s keynotes, which make excellent learning tools.

In January 2007, Jobs gave perhaps his greatest presentation to introduce the new iPhone. This speech demonstrates the techniques he and other inspiring leaders use to wow their audiences – techniques you can use in your next presentation.

1. Ignite Your Enthusiasm
Goal: Engage your listeners’ passion by tapping into your own.
“We’re going to make some history together today…”
“Today we’re introducing revolutionary products…”
“We’ve got amazing stuff to show you this morning…”
“This is an awesome computer…”
“This is an incredible way to have fun…”
“This is the coolest thing we’ve done with video…”
“We are so excited about this. It’s incredible…”

2. Navigate the Way
Goal: Present your theme as a mantra to help your listeners remember it easily.
“This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for two and a half years,”
“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. One would be fortunate to work on just one of these in your career. Apple has been very fortunate to introduce a few of these in the world.”
“Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone!”

3. Sell the Benefit
Goal: Explain the real-world problem, then offer your solution.
“the smartphones are not that smart, and they are not that easy to use. We want to make a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has ever been and super easy to use. That is what iPhone is.”
“We’re going to use the best pointing device in the world. A device we’re all born with. Our fingers.” (multi-touch technology)

4. Paint a Picture
Goal: Use a captivating storyline to structure your presentation.
A. Stick to the rule of three. We remember lists in groups of three. Jobs unveiled the iPhone and built drama at the same time by saying, “Today we are introducing three revolutionary products. The first is a wide-screen iPod with touch controls, the second is a revolutionary mobile phone, and the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.” For added emphasis, he repeated the three products three times, then delivered the knockout: “These are not three separate devices. This is one device! Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone!”

B. Tell personal stories. During one section of the presentation, Jobs’s clicker suddenly stopped working. He mentioned it with a smile, knowing that someone backstage would take care of it, then told a story about how he and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak had built a TV jammer and used it to block TV signals at Wozniak’s college dorm. He used the opportunity to make an emotional connection with his audience. Once the problem was solved, Jobs continued as if it had all been planned. Effortless but powerful.

C. Keep it visual. In a Steve Jobs presentation, you will not find bullet points, mind-numbing data, or lists of numbers on slides. When Jobs mentioned each of the three products — an iPod, a phone, an Internet communicator — a slide with an image of the product appeared. When he discussed the “ultimate pointing device” — your fingers — all the audience saw on the screen was an image of a finger touching the iPhone.

Too much text on the screen distracts from the speaker’s words. Strike the right balance between visual and verbal by creating slides that are big on images and low on text.

D. Rehearse. Jobs rehearses presentations for hours. Nothing is taken for granted. He knows the flow of his story, how he is going to build up to a big moment, what he is going to demonstrate, and how he will open and close the presentation. He appears effortless — but only after hours of rehearsal. Motivation takes preparation.

Source: Fire Them Up: 7 Simple Secrets to Inspire Your Colleagues, Customers and Clients by Carmine Gallo.

The Apples of Other Industries

“Apple’s market share is bigger than BMW’s or Mercedes’ or Porche’s in the automotive market,” begins one of Steve Jobs’ more famous sayings. “What’s wrong with being BMW or Mercedes?”

What indeed, if you’ve got a legendary brand and a global reputation for high quality? Yet by comparing Apple to an 84-year-old carmaker, Jobs highlights an important point: Apple’s success is hardly unique. In other, more crowded industries, there are also standout companies that play an Apple-like role. Here are a few.

Virgin Atlantic
The evolution of commercial flight has mirrored that of the personal computer, in that it’s gone from being an ultra-expensive privilege of a few to a mass-market product in which most companies compete mainly on price. Not Virgin. From its emergency training video (with a soundtrack by the funktastic Mr. Scruff) to the glassy elevators that whisk “Upper Class” passengers past the security lines in London, Virgin consistently delivers a better (and much cooler) travel experience.
The lesson: People value their time and comfort, and they will reward companies that make an unpleasant experience far more pleasurable.

Whole Foods Market
Sure, shoppers refer to this pricey supermarket chain as “Whole Paycheck.” But so what? Just like Apple’s customers, they come back time and again, and they clearly think the experience is worth the extra money. At Whole Foods, the fruit glistens, the counters shine, and colorful labels form a textual mosaic that food author Michael Pollan terms “cutting-edge grocery lit.” Forget the hippy ideal of wholesome food; the focus at Whole Foods is on making customers feel good about spending more.
The lesson: No product is ever fully commoditized — not even something as simple as a (real) apple. People will rethink how much they’ll pay for a product if you give them a good reason to do so.

Target
In the fashion world, there are literally hundreds of boutique designers and brand names that do what Apple does: deliver great design at a higher price. Comparing Target — a low-end, big-box department store — to Apple seems like a stretch. Yet to compete with Wal-Mart (the Microsoft of retail), Target uses design as a key differentiator. Target signs up big fashion names like Anna Sui and Alexander McQueen to make clothes, thus keeping its collection edgier than the competition. The reward has been a steady stream of customers who shop at Target to buy good design at a budget price.
The lesson: Even at low price points, superior design can attract customers and differentiate a brand.

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