Saturday, December 15, 2012

Innovation - from the eyes of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

I recently read a Bloomsberg Businessweek article featuring an interview with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, that basically sums up my thoughts about digital innovation.

 Image from LA Times

Quality over quantity
Many companies get lost in keeping up with new platforms like Pinterest or Instagram, but the fact is that platforms will continue to be invented everyday. It's important to keep up with what's going on in your industry and be timely with everything you do, but to "keep up" by building products and services around the the new and coolest is the easiest way to digress your company culture.

How Tim Cook sees it:
"Apple has changed every day since I have been here. But the DNA of the company, the thing that makes our heart beat, is a maniacal focus on making the best products in the world. Not good products, or a lot of products, but the absolute best products in the world."
This is why Apple is one of the greatest companies -  it reinforces its persistence in company philosophy from top to bottom. Apple ensures that it takes into account new popular apps and user behaviors when building new user interfaces, but refuses to release a new product until it's at its perfection at the time. While other companies continue to push out new products and services every quarter, Apple releases ONE new product every year or two.

Focus on how to make people's lives better, profits are just byproducts
When you're blinded by how your product is going to make money, you're likely to lose focus on how to make the best product so it'll actually sell. I heard about the Convenience Quotient at a mobile conference recently, and it states that any time you build a new platform or product, the benefits provided for the user has to be much larger than the barriers to adoption. In other words, it's great to provide innovation, but keep in mind your user habits, and how difficult it would be to adopt your new product.

How Tim Cook sees it:
"In creating these great products, we focus on enriching people's lives - a higher cause for the product. These are the macro things that drive the company. They haven't changed. They're not changing. I will not witness or permit those changes because that's what makes the company so special.

We want to really enrich people's lives at the end of the day, not just make money. Making money might be a byproduct, but it's not our North Star."

Creativity is not a process, it comes from everywhere and everything

The key to the best innovation is simplicity.

How Tim Cook sees it:

"Creativity is not a process, right? It's people who care enough to keep thinking about something until they find the simplest way to do it... A lot of companies have innovation departments, and this is always a sign that something is wrong when you have a VP of innovation of something... Everybody in our company is responsible to be innovative, whether they're doing operational work or product work, or customer service work."