This week Apple presented a live keynote broadcast to introduce, among many items, their new Apple Watch. Admittedly, I tuned in to hear about the watch but it was the innovation of the MacBook along with ResearchKit that stole the show for me.
For leaders faced with the need to be innovative, which I would argue is all of us; there are several key insights to be harvested from this tech colossus. It is no accident that Apple now has a seat on the DowJones bumping AT&T out of their long held spot.
Here is an important fact from Apple's 2014 sales report card. Last year Apple’s notebook sales increased 49% while the industry only increased 26%. To outpace the industry by almost double is an amazing feat by itself.
So, the question that needs to be asked is why do anything different? Where does the need to innovate come from with staggering sales numbers such as these?
I believe the answer is in a simple statement that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, made during his Keynote presentation. While gushing over the amazing design breakthroughs presented by his team he remarked, “ We build products that enrich peoples lives.”
That’s it! A clear, succinct mission that allows every member of the Apple team to connect to the amazing work they are doing. It is this clarity of purpose that drives an organization to go beyond a 50% growth in a category to push towards total category dominance.
At Apple they also know that if they pause for just one milli-second someone will catch them, or will at least give it their best shot.
So what did Apple change on their MacBook, EVERYTHING! From the way the keys on the keyboard work to the trackpad, to the batteries everything thing is a new, never-been-done-before design. Included in this complete make over is the first “fan-less” laptop which means it runs completely quite!
While examining what they have accomplished I have pulled out just a couple key points to consider as leaders facing the need to be innovative.
Point 1: Know your Mission/Purpose
The powerful fact is easy to see; when an organization has a clear mission everyone is engaged and has purpose. The alignment that results from this level of clarity is nothing short of extraordinary levels of engagement at all levels of an organization.
Point 2: Be Bold
In 2007 when Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone to the world he made a series of bold statements concerning the design and functionality of his new creation. One such statement was that Apple was redefining the Smart Phone. 700 million iPhones later you could argue Steve’s bold statement is now a reality.
Apple’s current designs are an equally impressive bold statement. Their view on innovation is simple, go bold or go home. For them bold includes rethinking everything.
The ability to go to this level of design innovation confirms a theory I have been working on regarding potential. It is my belief that one of the key measures of true potential in an individual or organization comes from their ability to Learn-Unlearn-Relearn.
It is my belief that the level of bold innovation an organization can produce is directly connected to their ability and willingness to Learn-Unlearn-Relearn.
Point 3: Make the Complex Simple
There might not be any more powerful point than this, true innovation comes from taking what is complex and making it simple. Nobody wants more complexity in his or her lives.
The simple fact is, much of the time we have become so accustom to our complex routines we often fail to realize that simplicity is with in reach. True innovators are masters at creating the simple.
To simplify life, or in Apple’s words to “Enrich peoples life”, you need to keep just a few thoughts in mind. Anytime you can remove, shorten, condense, or combine steps from a process, project, or product you have found simple.
The introduction of the iPhone combined the iPod, Phone, and Internet into one device. This singular thought, possibly the single biggest play in their innovation playbook, is the very essence of their genius. A play our Government would benefit from largely.
A review of the last two decades of design coming out of Cupertino confirms, complex-to-simple is a winning formula. When you consider that Apple now has the largest market cap in the nation, closing in on $1 trillion (yep, that is $1,000,000,000,000.00) it is hard to argue with these results.
So, as a leader where can you improve your innovative approach? These 3 proven points should provide some food for thought. Don’t get sucked into thinking innovation is only for product design, far from it. As leaders we need to be looking for innovative thinking in every area of our life.
Here is a quick self-test you can take to check your innovative level.
1. Have I added additional steps to any process, design, or procedure?
2. Have I personally been doing the same process or procedure the same way for longer than a year?
3. Do I fear the thought of learning something new, even if it would save me time or money?
4. Can I articulate the mission/purpose of my team?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you may want to consider a B3 innovation booster shot.
1. Be on Mission
2. Be Bold
3. Be Simple