Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lessons in innovation

I'm a Macintosh fan, and beyond that a fan of how Apple consistently produces products that work well and delight users. They get plenty of my money.

So, I try to get something back – in this case, lessons that can be translated from their success in high tech, consumer products to our own endeavors as a news company. The Economist recently made this easy by publishing this piece on Innovation Lessons From Apple. It's a quick read, also exerpted below:

  • Ideas from anywhere: "Apple is, in short, an orchestrator and integrator of technologies, unafraid to bring in ideas from outside but always adding its own twists. This approach, known as “network innovation”, is not limited to electronics. It has also been embraced by companies such as Procter & Gamble, BT and several drugs giants, all of which have realised the power of admitting that not all good ideas start at home."
  • Built for users: "Apple illustrates the importance of designing new products around the needs of the user, not the demands of the technology. Too many technology firms think that clever innards are enough to sell their products, resulting in gizmos designed by engineers for engineers. Apple has consistently combined clever technology with simplicity and ease of use."
  • Also listen to your heart: "For all the talk of “user-centric innovation” and allowing feedback from customers to dictate new product designs, a third lesson from Apple is that smart companies should sometimes ignore what the market says it wants today. The iPod was ridiculed when it was launched in 2001, but Mr Jobs stuck by his instinct."
  • Fail wisely: "The fourth lesson from Apple is to “fail wisely”. The Macintosh was born from the wreckage of the Lisa, an earlier product that flopped; the iPhone is a response to the failure of Apple's original music phone, produced in conjunction with Motorola. Both times, Apple learned from its mistakes and tried again."

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