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Integrating the “i” in Innovation

September 3, 2010

Be it the lustrous design of Macbooks, the ingenuity of Itunes, the master mindedness of iPhones or the exclusiveness of iPods, Apple without fail has captured and flabbergasted each market it enters by modernizing old ideas. The secret behind the success story lies in the innovative corporate culture Apple has adopted over years. Innovation is indispensable for their economical competitiveness and sustainability.

The elemental essence of the company is its motto, “Think Different,” Apple maintains a contemplative, autonomous operating approach that is capable of surprising competitors and shuddering up whole industries. Apple has successfully made innovation a discipline at work through “strategic clarity”-innovating effectively by creating unique opportunities in a crowded marketplace to avoid both mediocrity and commoditization- and by establishing a tight connection between the personality of the project leader, Mr Jobs,  and the products.

Here are a few of the techniques Apple’s management uses to integrate innovation to sustain new products enterprise and pick up from its sporadic failures:

1. Disregard Trend. Apple makes its own trends rather than following the market trends. Apple didn’t consider making a economical “mini” laptop to respond to the “netbook” trend, instead it released the super thin, super expensive MacBook Air, a product representative of the “Macworld”.

2. Be your toughest critic. Ultimately, Apple succeeds because it not only beats its competitors but also strives each year to beat itself. As management guru Peter Drucker noted long ago, “Your being the one who makes your products, process, or service obsolete is the only way to prevent your competitor from doing so.” In the process of trying to outdo itself, Apple often leaves its competition in the dust.

3. Clear your mind and “Think Different”. Great products, according to Mr. Jobs, are triumphs of “taste.” And taste, he explains, is a byproduct of study, observation and being steeped in the culture of the past and present, of “trying to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then bring those things into what you are doing.”

4. Pay less attention to market research and competitors. Apple doesn’t believe in developing their products through a combination of consumer focus groups and efforts to imitate successful products from other companies. In fact, Apple anticipates the future needs of customers and fulfills the niche. IPod and iPhone are clear proof of that.

How can we get our clients “Think Differently” to be innovative in their work culture?

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