Thursday, December 06, 2012

Inside Apple #2

We had the good fortune of having Adam LashinskyFortune editor and author of the best-selling book, Inside Apple, as a guest speaker at Makovsky yesterday  –  part of our Makovsky Speaker Series. 

Adam’s presentation was very well-received.  He has a lively, engaging speaking style and his PowerPoint presentation was compelling and informative, using very few—but well-chosen— words (a good thing!).

I had seen Adam make this presentation twice before:  at a client site and at the Arthur W. Page Society, a membership organization for public relations leadership … which is why I was eager to have him address our leadership and staff.   With a less gifted presenter, seeing the same presentation could have been a boring experience for me, but it was certainly not.  Even though Adam has delivered this speech maybe a hundred times to boost book sales, he delivered fresh new insights. 

Back in October, I had written a blog on the previous talk I’d heard Adam deliver, but here are some new points I’d like to share:

·         MAPPING PROBLEM:   Lashinsky has a hunch that the mapping problem on the newest iPhone emanated from Apple’s secretive culture, where product  information is closely guarded and shared only on a “need to know” basis.  Other companies would have been more generous with knowledge and multiple internal reviews, which might have prevented the problem.

·         PRODUCT-FOCUSED:  Jobs was product, rather than customer, focused:  “Why ask customers what they want, when they don’t know what is possible?”

·         DETAIL:   Apple has made detail orientation cool again.  Jobs was a workaholic obsessed with every screw inside the computer, how the customers experienced the product packing and every element in the marketing of the product.  Delegation was simply not in his vocabulary.  Among the likely reasons for the ascension of Tim Cook, the hardworking operations guy who succeeded Jobs at the time of his death:  his attention to detail, passion for the product and round-the-clock commitment to the job.

·         SINGLE PRODUCT BET:  Apple is unique among public companies followed by Wall Street largely because of its singular product focus (e.g., the iPhone).  Most big companies prefer a portfolio of products to balance their risk.  Apple, on the other hand, took a big bet and a big risk, and invested billions.  If they had gotten it wrong, they would’ve been creamed.

·         FOCUS ON ONE THING:   Apple people are not multi-taskers, but focus only on the one thing they are doing.  They don’t go to conferences to learn how to make the world a better place; they are too focused, and such would be considered a waste of time.

·         SIMPLIFY:  There is a sign at  Apple that reads:  “Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.“  (The strikethrough is Apple’s, not mine.)  Think about it — all Apple products look very simple, from the line of the product to the boxes in which they are sold.  There are no extraneous features.  They never load products with annoying, unnecessary “crapware.” Even the organization charts were simple. 

So we will keep it simple, and sign off!

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