Posts Tagged ‘Innovation’

The Facts Matter!

July 17, 2010

In a competitive world of 24/7 news channels and realtime online media, getting the story fast seems to trump getting it right. After all, if you can get 2 sources you can always retract latter as more complete information comes along.

And if you’re a big company, then it is reasonable to expect the media to be gunning for you, right? In his article in the National Post today, that is exactly what journalist Matt Hartley says about Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ response to the so called Antennagate story.

Matt suggests that by the use of facts and comparison of the iPhone 4s antenna problem to competitor’s products, Jobs will not win much sympathy and in fact many loose favor of consumers. It seems as if the media feels cheated out of not having brought Apple to its knees and receiving an apology or an embarrassing and expensive product recall.

There seems to be an implication online that upon hearing the complaints as put forward by Gizmodo and other online posts, Apple CEO’s appropriate response should have been to make an immediate apology to customers and investors and recall the entire 3 million iphone 4s. It would seem that according to many bloggers, taking an analytical measured response, like demanding the facts, doing testing and making a decision based on data seems to be the wrong way to go.

Well If the facts that Apple presented are to be believed, it seems that Apple’s iPhone 4 customers seem to be overwhelmingly satisfied with their purchase. And while the reception problem can be reproduced over and over in testing, very few real world complaints are coming forward.

After all, it is exactly because Apple consistently makes product that its customers ( and yes, Fans) want, and address their needs with the highest level of quality user experience, that Apple is no longer the little kid and has taken the dominant industry role.

In my mind, where a company and its CEO take logical steps to acquire the facts and then regardless of the outcome, offer to satisfy customers and refund them, no questions asked if they still are not satisfied, meets the test not only of being a good marketer but also good corporate stewards.

And if that still does not satisfy you, in the words of Jonathan Mann:

“if you don’t want an iPhone 4, don’t buy one, if you bought one and you don’t like it, bring it back”

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Don’t conform, let your unique creativity shine through!

June 23, 2010

Change is good. It’s how we advance the world. But to create change we must dare to think differently from the current wisdom and think outside the box. So why do we teach conformity and stigmatize mistakes?

“If you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original” – Sir Ken Robinson

While the world has evolved, the educational system has remained largely unchanged. We continue to teach our kids that if they study hard and follow the established rules they will find success. Despite that fact that each child has unique talents and abilities, we all send our kids to schools which by design require conformity and uniformity of thought.

In his 2006 TED Talk, creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson tells the story of Gillian Lynne the world-famous choreographer, which I believe is a good example in point. As a child, Gillian was underperforming in school and unable to focus and sit still.

Gillian was lucky that her hidden talent was discovered by a doctor and that her parents chose to nurture it rather than giving her Ritalin and telling her to calm down. Had that not been the case, Gillian might not have gone on to meet Andrew Lloyd Weber and choreograph some of the worlds best musicals including Cats.

Robinson asserts that “We are educating people out of their creativity” and goes on to tell us that “Creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”

Another case is from the life of Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, who dropped out of a more traditional college program giving him the freedom to enroll in a calligraphy class simply because it fascinated him. At the time it was hard to connect the dots but ten years later, as he was designing the first Macintosh computer it all came back to him. If he had never dropped in on that course, computers might never have had multiple typefaces and proportional fonts that we now all expect.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”Steve Jobs

So if you feel that you are not already on the right path, don’t be afraid to choose to a new course. Be creative and most importantly, don’t let the discouragement of others hold you back.

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Apple’s rejection of Flash doesn’t harm competition!

June 18, 2010

I don’t see that Apple is harming competition by their decision to keep flash off the iPad. In doing so Apple clearly recognizes that some consumers may choose to purchase a competitors product as a result of their decision. And some will. There is competition. Consumers can buy a net book, or another companies tablet or they can use a laptop.

Apple is not preventing others from offering competitive products. They have taken no steps to prevent flash videos being accepted on others products or on the web. Nor are they refusing to accept apps if their developers also make versions for Blackberries or Android phones. Consumers continue to have a clear choice. All that Apple is doing is limiting the technologies that may be used used on their platform in an effort to assure an excellent users experience. It would have been very easy for them to allow flash and increase their short sales yet they choose quality and long term gain. I love Apple products because they have great design and an incredible user experience. I do miss the ability to watch Flash videos on my iPad but I knew that when I made the choice to buy an iPad.

I guess there will always be those that like to point our what features Apple products are missing or to assume Apple’s dark conspiracy to take over the world. As for me, I don’t worry about what is missing. I only look at whether a product adds value to me at a reasonable price and gives me quality of experience. What’s your take?

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Do you love your fish?

March 29, 2010

The current wisdom is not always the best approach.

I have never been comfortable with limits that others place on me. I know there are accepted norms or rules of thumb that people use to look into the future but they are all of course based upon conventional wisdoms.

In his recent humorous and insightful Ted Talk “How I fell in love with a Fish” chef Dan Barber looks at the wisdom (or lack thereof) in the current agribusiness model and proposes innovative alternative approaches. He recounts a number of anecdotes about current industry practices and how they are justified by their objectives of making large amounts of food available at the lowest possible cost. Dan points out that while the output is indeed plentiful and produced at a low cost, it often does not taste good and the practices are not sustainable.

We each have the power to make a real difference on the world and in our lives.

In business as well as in life, I believe we must constantly be looking at how things are currently being done and asking ourselves what could make it better. I have always said that acceptance of the status quo by definition will not bring about change and will not advance the cause.

In today’s competitive would, those individuals and companies who are capable of bucking accepted truths will be the true winners.

Next Month, Business Week will publish their list of the Most Innovative Companies of 2010. Who do you think will be on the list? Not surprisingly, Apple and Google topped last year’s list. Just think about their innovations have changed our lives in music, wireless and how we use the web.

Don’t settle for the status quo.

Tomorrow when you start your day, rather than make it business as usual, ask yourself “how can I make a change that will make a difference?”

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Think about the User!

January 28, 2010

As Apple launches the iPad, their long awaited Tablet, I can’t help but wonder why they can generate so much excitement. This is not a one-off affair. Apple consistently generates incredible anticipation over any announcement they make. While sometimes their media events leave people underwhelmed, more often that not they deliver.

Why is that? I think it is because of their focus on “great product design’. They focus on the user experience and usability. Yes, there are always complaints about some missing features, however their products are generally designed to meet most of the requirements of most of the users most of the time.

This is how I became a Mac user after many years of using PCs.

It funny, it’s sometimes the little things that count. The attention to detail, ease of use and just the sense that the  company takes pride in making a great product appealed to me. Are they perfect? Are there no problems? No. Will others launch better products? Yes, no doubt.

And then when there are problems, and there always are even with the best products, the support given always makes me happy with my choice.

To be a market leader, one does not have to have the largest market share. Being an innovator and constantly striving to raise the bar in meeting user expectations allows companies to influence and change the world.

Apple does not hold exclusivity on great design. There are many other companies who put great product design and user experience at the top of their priority list. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the majority of companies do this consistently.

As the world becomes more connected and consumers have increasing information on all their options, I believe that if you want your company to stand out in the crowd you must first and foremost think of the user and deliver products with great design. You don’t have to have everything, but what you do have has to be great!