Lessons from Apple on Innovation

Lessons from Apple on Innovation

By Mark Boone

This article is based on research appearing in The European Business Review

Innovation is not an out of reach, mystical phenomenon that is only obtained by companies that have favor with the glorious business gods. There is no blue ocean strategy or above the cloud thinking involved in it either. You do not even have to develop a brand new ground-breaking product that the market has never seen before.  It is not at all that complex; your company too can achieve innovation.

Apple is a great example of a company that continually innovates. They do this by focusing on the product-user in a fast follower manner and being devoted to endless improvements. Just like Apple, any company is afforded a slice of the innovation pie, including yours; however, one of the primary requirements is the ability to step outside of the box beyond your comfort zone. This article will provide the true reasons to Apple’s success as well as the precise framework needed to help your company innovate effectively.

Apple’s world renowned innovation has helped it to become one of the most successful companies to exist. There is a lot the can be learned from their success. First, there are a few myths that should be debunked.

  • Being overly awed, assuming that Apple’s operations, product design, and branding is so above the bar that no ordinary company can learn from them is the first mistake.
  • Secondly, Apple’s innovation uses a serial disruptive approach, meaning it is not based on a first-movers advantage by pioneering the first world changing product or service. In reality, the answer is more down-to-earth and within arm’s-reach that you may think.

The True Reason for Apple’s Success

Apple is not some magical company that possess the rarely discover infinite knowledge of business; however there are certain things in regards to innovation that they do quite well. One of those things is execution. They invest endless amounts of effort and resources day after day to deliver their brand promise of their products. This is the grunt work that never hits headlines, yet it is quite necessary and vital to their success. They are also driven to improve their products year after year.

Instead of pioneering new products, they use a user-centric fast follower approach. For example, they didn’t originate the world’s first smartphone, tablet, or online music store. Yet, they reign supreme in those markets by providing high-end products with premium prices. In addition, they implement features and capabilities they were developed by others. Furthermore, their every move of innovation is backed by solid investments in design, brand communications, quality service, and unparalleled execution.  Dating all the way back to their creation of the Apple II computer in 1977, their innovation then went global in 1984 with the Mac computer. Here are a few key facts about the company during that time.

  • Apple did not develop key technologies. Instead, they duplicated the ideas of Xerox PARC and also included minor improvements.
  • Lisa, the precursor of the Mac, was launched two years following the Xerox Star and failed. Apple learned from that failure and introduced the Mac.
  • Over the past 25 years, they have continually incrementally improved the Mac and other products based on user-centric fast follower methods. Such methods have birthed the MacBook, MacMinis, iPods, and the iPad and iPhone generation.

The basis of Apple’s innovation is that they do not innovate beyond what they are familiar with. When a competitor’s product is released to the market, they sit back and study the consumer’s response to the product. After this in-depth analysis and evaluation, they are more apt to launch a similar product that offers a more improved user experience.

General Framework of Innovation

The fundamental framework of innovation consists of multiple factors. These factors consist of the following:

  • You company must be effective in offering and communicating a transparent promise that is clear to the customer.
  • Secondly, a company of innovation must build trust in their customer-base by offering brand equity and reliability.
  • Next, you must think outside of the box and look far past your comfort zone.
  • Lastly, your organization must be effective in managing risk and following fast.

At PreScouter, we help companies find the most innovative solutions to any challenge. Contact us today and challenge us with yours!

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