As many of you know, I am a big Apple fan, not only because I worked there so many years but because they are brilliant at moving past the complex to the simple which is not an easy task. With Steve Jobs resigning from the CEO position all eyes on the company with the hope that they will not lose the passion and focus that Steve brought to the company.
I have spent my life in the digital world and have been tasked many times with defining and executing on digital strategies. With the right alignment of talent, luck and good timing the end results are sometimes amazing flashes of success. What impresses me about Steve Jobs and the Apple team is how systematically and routinely they hit home runs with their product and service releases. As they expand into new markets with advances in Cloud Computing it will be interesting to watch and see if they can keep their success formula working. I truly hope so. I believe that having Apple in the game makes us all better players.
Mastering Simplicity – The Secret Souce
The digital space is exciting and it requires you to constantly be in a state of change and growth. One thing I love most about Apple is how they have mastered the art of simplicity without losing the power of innovation and technology. Often times when I participate in strategic client meetings the flow of ideas goes from excitement around what appears to be a simple concept to the follow on sessions where the simple is unfolded into a complex set of requirements needed to make the simple concept a reality. Simple should never be confused with easy. Particularly when you are dealing with a large Multinational Fortune 500 client. Apple has had the fantastic ability to move past the complex and get back to the simple in very innovative ways. Maybe we can get a hint of the secret formula from some interviews, as Steve Jobs speaks with BusinesWeek and NewsWeek interviews and shares his views:
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” Steve Jobs interview – BusinessWeek“
“When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.” Newsweek
Don’t Compete & Follow – Innovate & Lead
I have seen Apple at it’s best when they decide not to compete but to innovate and either create or lead a marketplace. When you look at how they entered the PC marketplace it was with a totally different form factor and user experience. Even though IBM was in the market first they did not try to emulate and compete they innovated and lead the marketplace. It was the same with their entry into the music industry with the introduction of the iPod , “One thousand songs in your pocket” . Although there were other data storage solutions in the market they entered the market with a clean, simple and portable music device and eCommerce model called iTunes. Of course their entry into the Mobile Phone market with the iPhone was nothing short of legendary and industry changing. The impact was felt in the mobile device industry and also the Software Development industry with the introduction of mobile apps and the Music and Entertainment industries.
In many ways Apple has been life changing for millions of consumers around the world who now not only had great mobile access but also access to a world of apps, multi-media, social networking, music and entertainment. They continue innovation with the iPad and I look forward to what’s next. Steve Jobs spoke about his innovation model over the year and was quoted as follows:
“For something this complicated, it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Steve Jobs interview with Bloomberg Businessweek
“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.” Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer
As Steve Jobs transitions into his next phase of life I want to give him and the incredible Apple team credit for some of the most important lessons I have learned in my career . I also am thankful that Apple is here and continues to innovate and raise the bar on so many levels.
Please let us know your thoughts and what lessons you have learned from Apple over the years.
Post by Warren Raisch Septeeber 2, 2011