I hate to start off my post’s by simply capitalizing on someone else’s intellectual capital, however I felt it a great point of departure. When I was a kid, I never asked ‘how’ or ‘what’ but rather, why. I wanted to understand why things happened the way they did and in that, why things were done. I know I’m not unique in that regard, but Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk from Puget Sound was not only motivating, but provided a sense of clarity and a strong value proposition .
My passion is doing things better and understanding organizational culture in different ways. In a circuitous route, from Twitter to a variety of sites I landed on Chris Morrison’s piece from 2009 that discussed how to innovate like Apple. He argues that Apple’s management principles are replicable but that they take time and money. No doubt a shocker to all I’m sure that innovation doesn’t happen overnight and it requires capital. With that however, Morrison notes that three fundamental ingredients need to be in the environment to allow for solid innovation:
- Strategic clarity: Innovating effectively means creating your own opportunities in a crowded marketplace to avoid both mediocrity and commoditization.
- Patience: Creativity is a fickle thing, and it doesn’t always follow the clock. False starts and the occasional flop are part of the process and must be accommodated.
- Strong leadership: Innovation doesn’t happen by committee. Visionaries with effective management skills are hard to find, but they’re a critical ingredient for success.
I see that fundamentally, each of these three pieces contributes to the answering of ‘why’. Why does your organization do what it does? Why should I care as a consumer? As a marketer I recognize that integrity and meaningful relationships are the engines of growth and long term brand loyalty. More organizations need to take stock in these core principles, but don’t. It’s puzzling to me to think that even with the myriad variables that can clutter up our organizations, the basic tenets of Be Clear, Be Patient, Be Persistent aren’t in play in more boardrooms. There’s a basic “how to” Guide on Apple’s organizational success in a more recent article written by Steve Tobak.
My reading on this issue however, comes full circle however to suggest that this really isn’t about an organization’s structure (however critical), as much as it is about the product. I like how Simon Sinek refers to how Apple’s market domination in all things “i” stemming from strong value proposition. Their products aren’t predicated on the What (what the product is or does). Afterdawn reports that Apple has 73.8 percent of the market, followed by 18 percent held by “other”, SanDisk at 7.2 percent and Microsoft at 1.1 percent share. So is Apple’s product that much better? Probably not, but people think they are. I think the question here is why do people think that?
Sinek suggests that the How (the product will make your life easier, faster, better) is important but that Apple’s product development and marketing (in that order) really focuses on Why (the product fits your life, lifestyle). He defines the ‘Why’ as that which guides the ideal and most fulfilling decisions – finding a job you love, maintaining friends you trust and buying the brands to which you’re most loyal.
Simple enough right? Apple has figure it out, and they have the same access to talent, capital, market etc. I understand that every organization has their issues, and I’m sure that Apple has their challenges, but they have a consistent value set that ties the product to the organizational model – an interesting mindset. Build an organization around the Why – build great products because of the Why and build a great organization around the Why.
Figure out what you’re good at, and do it well.