The Economist: What other companies can learn from Apple, California’s master of innovation

“For a company that looked doomed a decade ago, it has been quite a comeback. Today Apple is literally an iconic company. Look at your iPod: the company name appears only in the small print. Some of the power of its brand comes from the extraordinary story of a computer company rescued from near-collapse by its co-founder, Steve Jobs, who returned to Apple in 1997 after years of exile, reinvented it as a consumer-electronics firm and is now taking it into the billion-unit-a-year mobile-phone industry (see article). But mostly Apple’s zest comes from its reputation for inventiveness. In polls of the world’s most innovative firms it consistently ranks first. From its first computer in 1977 to the mouse-driven Macintosh in 1984, the iPod music-player in 2001 and now the iPhone, which goes on sale in America this month, Apple has prospered by keeping just ahead of the times,” The Economist reports.

Apple “inspires an almost religious fervour among its customers. That is no doubt helped by the fact that its corporate biography is so closely bound up with the mercurial Mr Jobs, a rare showman in his industry. Yet for all its flaws and quirks, Apple has at least four important wider lessons to teach other companies,” The Economist reports.

• Innovation can come from without as well as within
• Design new products around the needs of the user, not the demands of the technology
• Sometimes ignore what the market says it wants today
• Fail wisely: learn from mistakes and try again

For the moment at least it is hard to think of a large company that better epitomises the art of innovation than Apple,” The Economist reports.

Full article here.

22 Comments

  1. What other companies can learn from Apple, California’s master of innovation?

    Well ALOT depends on the CEO.

    Second is, smart creative people don’t like to be told what to do. But you need smart creative people to advance you and your company.

    So the conclusion is to motivate smart creative people.

    Unfortunatly most companies executives want to pigeon hole people in routine tasks so they are not a bother and not a threat to their advancement.

    Then companies like Microsoft wonder why they are so mundane and medicore, unable to lift a creative leg to piss.

  2. How do you motivate smart creative people?

    You show them a problem that your unable to solve.

    If you show them a problem your able to solve, they realize that you could have solved this and be pissed at you.

    Creative people need praise for their work regardless, even if it’s a POS. If you can’t get anything productive out of their creative approaches, you have to let them go.

    Creative people can work better under mild deadline conditions, but watch out for burnout.

  3. There is no formula for good design. It takes a strong driving force (Steve Jobs) and a talented design group (ives & Co.)

    current CEO’s or managers have zero TASTE but there are definately, no doubt, thousands of Ives out there, but they get stiffled by managers with……all together now……NO TASTE.

    Good design is filtered out bad managers.

  4. “Design new products around the needs of the user, not the demands of the technology”

    On the other hand, Microsoft delivers technology oblivious of what their customers think. That’s why they lisence their R&D… cuz they can’t figure out what to do with their tech.

    Look at the Surface: neat technology, but they can’t figure out what to do with it because they don’t think about the customer.

    Marketing 101

  5. mike:

    C’mon, the Surface is nothing but a bunch of rehashed technology with a new name and a steep pricetag.
    Remember, Microsoft never invented ANYTHING.

    Also, Microsoft knows EXACTLY what their customers want and think. But who exactly are their real customers?

    IT workers. IT workers who depend on crappy Microsoft products to keep food on their tables, gas in their Fords and the latest polyester clothing in their closets. If MS products actually worked, tens of thousands of worthless dorks would be out on the streets.

    So, if Apple ever takes over the world, ex-MS dependent workers will easily revive the noble profession of village idiot.

    MDN Magic Word: Yep, the EVIDENCE is all there.

  6. Jobs has extremely high quality standards, yet he makes sure that he tests and uses products with the smarts of the average Joe instead of the average billionaire. He knows how to let people alone and do what they do best while doing what he does best.

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