P30 A Unique Look Into Why Apple is So Successful

  • Welcome to the Proven, Practical, Profitable Innovation podcast! I am Richard and I thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day to listen to this podcast.
  • My goal is to make sure you get a high return on your time investment listening to this podcast. I want you to immediately be able to use the information in this podcast to help you sell more and make more.
  • I am a very big Apple fan –iMac’s, Mac Air’s, iPad, iPod, and iPhones. Prior to that I was a big Dell fan but having to work with Microsoft’s operating system and all of its ongoing problems became just too much. As an Apple fan of what they do and how they do it, I recently read the best interview with Tim Cook that I have ever seen. It reveals some key insights about why and how the company is so successful at innovation. This interview, which appeared in Fast Company magazine, is the major source of key points in this podcast.
  • Please be sure to listen to the end of this podcast where I give you an exciting preview of future podcasts.
  • If after listening to this podcast you feel a need for more help, please contact me directly—my email is richard@i2ge.com. You can also go to my website—i2ge.com– where you can explore many innovation topics, especially check out the DIY Innovation Training on the menu bar. We customize all the training programs to our clients’ unique needs and circumstances.
  • Tim Cook interview.
    • Tim Cook on what made Steve Jobs so successful.
      • “Steve felt that most people live in a small box. They think they can’t influence or change things a lot. I think he would probably call that a limited life. And more than anybody I’ve ever met, Steve never accepted that. He got each of us to reject that philosophy. If you can do that then you can if you embrace that the things that you can do are limitless, you can put your ding in the universe. You can change the world. That was the huge arc of his life, the common thread. That’s what drove him to have big ideas. Through his actions, way more than preaching, he embedded this non-acceptance of the status quo into the company. Several of the things are the consequence of that philosophy, starting with a maniacal focus to make the best products in the world. And in order to build the best products, you have to own the primary technologies. Steve felt that if Apple could do that – make great products and great tools for people – they in turn would do great things. He felt strongly that this would be his contribution to the world at large. We still very much believe that. That’s still the core of this company.”
      • Interestingly, as we are recruiting people for an innovation project, we ask them to take a multidimensional assessment. One of the dimensions we measure is how comfortable a person is with change – do they only like taking small steps at a time or are they comfortable taking a leap forward. If people are not comfortable taking a leap forward, we find it very difficult to make them a part of the project. While there are various levels of innovation ranging from small improvements to an existing thing to inventing an entirely new thing, most innovation efforts benefit from people who are willing to include taking major leaps forward in their innovation explorations – changes that make something dramatically better for customers and the company.
    • Apple’s decision-making checklist.
      • Tim Cook says, “when Apple looks at what categories to enter, we ask these kinds of questions: what are the primary technologies behind this? What do we bring? Can we make a significant contribution to society with this? If we can’t, and if we can’t own the key technologies, we don’t do it. The philosophy comes directly from him (Steve Jobs) and it still very much permeates the place. I hope that it always will.”
      • Direct. Real-world validation. Several times in my innovation career, I’ve been frustrated by clients who essentially think that successful innovation is a me to product with their mega, better brand name on the product. In my opinion, they are delusional. Customers are too smart to be fooled by a me too product with a known brand name at a higher price – higher priced because of the known brand name. You want to think about innovation the way Apple does.
    • The importance of company culture.
      • Interviewer’s question: as the human scale of the company grows, as the generations churn and new people come in, how does the culture get transferred to new employees? Is there something that needs to be systematized?
      • Tim Cook: I don’t think of it as systematizing, but there are a number of things that we do, starting with employee orientation. Actually, it starts before that, in interviews. You’re trying to pick people that fit into the culture of the company. You want a very diverse group with very diverse life experiences looking at every problem. But you also want people to buy into the philosophy, not just buy in, but to deeply believe in it…… Then there’s Apple U, which takes things that happened in the past and dissects them in a way that helps people understand how decisions were made, why they were made, how successes occurred, and how failures occurred. All these things help. Ultimately, though, it’s on the company leadership to set the tone. Not only the CEO, but the leaders across the company. If you select them so carefully that they then hire the right people, it’s a nice self-fulfilling prophecy.
      • For the regular listeners to this podcast you know that I have several times mentioned the critical importance and power of company culture in all aspects of the business enterprise, but especially innovation. It is that hidden code of values and beliefs that drive behaviors – what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s good, what’s bad. Apple recognizes the power of their culture and what they need to do to keep it vibrant and relevant. You’ve also heard me many times in these podcasts talk about the importance of diversity if you want to be successful at innovation. In this interview you hear Tim Cook talking about “you want a very diverse group with very diverse life experiences looking at every problem.” If everyone has the same experiences and thinks about things the same way then the box that you live in gets very small and developing out-of-the-box thinking becomes very challenging.
    • Ongoing close.
      • Here’s how I think the information in today’s podcast can help you.
        • First, Henry Ford, the inventor of the Model T, once said, “if you think you can’t do something you are right and if you think you can do something, you are right.” Steve Jobs thought he could change the world and he was right. Take a look at what you think is possible. If you don’t think you can change the world or at least fundamentally change your business, then you have at least one hand tied behind your back when it comes to innovation. Find a way to expand your vision of the possible and probable.
        • Second, consider having a rigorous checklist like the one Apple has when it decides to enter or not enter a new business. You need some strong fundamental principles to guide decision-making. So many businesses do not have these fundamental principles and decision-making is based on whims of the moment and brainstorms of the senior leader. This approach has very low chances for success, while Apple’s approach has very high chances for success.
        • Third, take a hard look at your company culture. What seems to be working? What seems to be holding you back? What are the key values and beliefs as they relate to innovation? While changing company culture is an arduous long-term undertaking, you can be successful seeing the innovation limiting values and beliefs and consciously overcoming them on a case-by-case basis.
      • If you would like to see the key written points from this podcast, you can find them in my blog – i2ge.com/blog.
      • If you would like to contact me, please email me at richard@i2ge.com.
      • If you would like to create far more robust innovation capabilities within your business, I have a complete portfolio of training programs that we tailor to your unique needs. If you would like to learn more, go to the Innovate2Grow Experts website – i2Ge.com and click on DIY Innovation Training.
      • One of my six books is Proven Practical Innovation That Delivers Results. This very low-cost book is available at Amazon in paperback and has a Kindle book. Is truly packed with lots of practical help.
      • Importantly, if you found this podcast helpful, please consider helping us with a five-star rating for these podcast. Thank you in advance for your support.
    • A preview of some future podcasts.
      • Upcoming podcast focus on specific case studies and powerful innovation insights that are relevant to almost any business and business need.
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    • Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon. Please have a great day.

 

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