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How The Apple Business Innovation Process Works

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I am about to tell you how Apple business innovation works to gain your best chances of business innovation success. But first, let me tell you a compelling story.
It is a story about perhaps the greatest innovation of all time. At the very least, that is my position.
Apple business
Apple business.
Collaboration drives creativity because innovation always emerges from a series of sparks and rarely from a single flash of insight … As the Apple team knows. 
Here is the story of Otto Rohwedder. In 1912, Otto invented bread the slicer. Sounds like a winner, right?
Not so fast, though. Bakers rejected the innovation out of hand, saying that bread would go stale much faster when sliced.
Check out our thoughts on building innovation.
For most of us that might have been the end of the story, But not for Otto. For the next 13 years, he searched for ways to hold the slices of bread together, including trying a hat pin.
Finally, in 1927, he found a complementary partner and together they came up with a bread slicer which sliced and wrapped bread.
This was the ultimate solution and within 12 months came the first sale of sliced bread.
By 1930, the first commercial machines were put into use by the Wonderbread brand. And amazingly by 1933, 80% of bread was sold pre-sliced. That is an incredible story of innovation, isn’t it?
So what were the lessons that Otto demonstrated in his innovation efforts?
Try many prototypes
Have persistence above all else
Eliminate manual tasks, don’t focus on improving them
Find complementary partners
The result was a transformed industry and consumer lifestyle. Not too shabby a result was it?
Related: Does a Paradox on Innovation Design and Creativity Exist in Business?
We live in the age of digital disruption – a time when organizations are challenged to transform . . . or die. That’s not an overstatement in an era where household brands are both materializing and disappearing on a near-daily basis.
Technology is advancing at a mind-boggling pace, and innovative businesses are launching all the time, each raising the bar on consumer expectations just a tad higher.
Think about this … you can be disrupted, or you can seek to achieve a shockingly disruptive innovation for your business. It is entirely up to you.
Good executives are often the smartest guys in the room. Through years of experience solving tough problems, they learn to be masters of their craft and are able to mentor those around them. A great operational manager is a great coach, guiding others around them to achieve more than they thought they could.
Unfortunately, innovation isn’t about what you know, but what you don’t.. It requires you to explore, push boundaries and venture into uncharted areas in which there often are no true experts. You’re basically flying blind, which can be incredibly uncomfortable, especially to those who have had a strong track record of success in a structured environment.
That’s why the first step to making the shift from operations to innovation is to learn how to become the dumbest guy in the room instead of the smartest. Admit to yourself that you don’t know what you need to succeed and begin to explore. Actively seek out those who know and understand things that you don’t.

So let’s consider the secrets to the Apple business innovation success:

Create both team collaboration and competition

Broaden your thinking on who could join your networks. Build contacts beyond the usual suspects. In addition to employees, suppliers, investors, and customers, expand your network to include community action groups, lobbyists, social entrepreneurs, NGOs, industry associations and economic development groups.
Work with, rather than against, your most vocal critics to diffuse situations before they hurt your reputation.
Building bridges into unrelated fields and industries spark fresh ideas and open up new markets.
future growth
Future growth.

Apple business innovation … recognize the need for future growth

It doesn’t take rocket scientists to realize that the competitive marketplace is not a static environment.
To stay ahead of your competition you need to consistently find new products and services … from the innovative process.
You CAN do it.

Apple business innovation … try lots of stuff

See what works. Emphasize the up on stuff that works quickly. Quickly kill stuff that doesn’t work. Learn, revel, and repeat.

Apple business innovation  … latent desires

Steve Jobs was a big believer in hidden desires in customers … clients who couldn’t tell you what they wanted. A great example comes from the Apple ecosystem.
There were plenty of digital music players around when Steve Jobs and Apple launched the iPod. Note he also combined his player with iTunes, which made content both more accessible and palatable to music companies.
He then threw new products into the mix – the iPhone, iPad and now Siri – creating more combinations and even greater value.
He was an amazing idea guy, wasn’t he?

The next big thing always starts out looking like nothing at all.  If it was easy to see coming, everybody would be doing it already and the market impact would be minimal. So you can never create something truly new based on what you already know. The only way to find it is to start looking.

Not all who wander are lost. The trick is to wander with purpose.

Adding value 

adding value
Adding value.
Business models are often neglected when considering new ideas for your business. They shouldn’t be.
One of the best examples of an innovative business model is from Safelite Auto Glass. What’s innovative here you may be thinking? It’s simple.
An auto glass repairs business that comes to you for your repair. Saving you time and convenience.
That is a value proposition and business model that is hard to top, isn’t it?
Another good example is eBay, reflecting a new design and application of supply, demand, and sales.

Apple business innovation … start small

Peter Drucker once wrote, “Effective innovations start small.  They are not grandiose.”  He was spot on.
Take a look at any big thing and, inevitably, its modest origins.  Microsoft became one of the world’s most valuable companies by focusing on software, an area so inconsequential at the time that IBM was willing to write it off.
Apple made a splash with the Macintosh to a significant part by capitalizing on innovations that Xerox tossed aside.
The great thing about thinking small is that you can risk failure because failure is sustainable.  You can falter, pick yourself up and try again.
Eventually, you’ll get it right, and when you do, there are no limits.
If you can survive, you can thrive.

Apple business innovation … challenge conventional wisdom

Ask employees for ideas and remember no idea is unworthy of consideration.Your employees see opportunities every day for saving money or doing things better.
Ask for their thoughts. At the U.S. Postal Service, 850 employee-led “Green Teams” helped save $52 million related to water, energy, fuel, and waste and generated $24 million in new revenue through recycling.

Remove outdated knowledge from your thinking

Challenge the way you’ve always done things. Maybe you could get materials from sustainable sources or by wind- or solar-powered electricity.
If it used to be too expensive to use hybrid vehicles in your delivery fleet, maybe that’s no longer the case.

Apple management structure … push passion and perseverance 

The problem with finding good innovative ideas is that finding the right ones takes time.  There are many examples to consider: Larry Page and Sergei Brin combined the system of educational sites with computer technology to develop the world’s greatest search engine.
However, it was years before they stumbled upon Overture’s business model and found the combination that made money.
Spending years in the wilderness before becoming a runaway success is not at all uncommon.
As Jim Collins noted in Built to Last, Sony started out as a failed rice cooker manufacturer.  Hewlett Packard began by making quirky gadgets like automatic toilet flushers and a machine shocked people to help them lose weight.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame emphasized the importance of perseverance in Amazon’s success in a recent interview.
He said that “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details. … We don’t give up on things quickly.”
A lot of times, what looks like brilliance is just someone who has the balls to stick it out through years of failures.

Apple business innovation … use three horizons

Of course, beyond all the happy talk, businesses must do more than just innovate.  They need to serve customers, pay employees (and sometimes congressmen) and earn money.
So prattling on about embracing creativity and failure often gets thrown to the wayside when it’s time to make a budget.
Nevertheless, Professor Kastelle brought a workable scheme to the table with his three horizons model.
Put 70% of your innovation efforts toward taking your competitor’s money
Put 20% of your innovation efforts toward taking somebody else’s money (often a customer or supplier)
Put 10% of your innovation efforts toward creating something very new and out of the box.

Apple business innovation … look at things in new ways

Disruptive innovation and change is a process chock full of surprise—failures, successes, unexpected technological advancements, aggressive moves, customer feedback, political and regulatory shifts, and other unforeseen events.
Most leaders assume surprises always should be avoided. But those who realize that surprises are an inevitable part of the business (just like life) are best equipped to use surprise as a strategic tool.
This made them the agilest and fastest to respond to or capitalize on unforeseen events. A big advantage, yes?

Connect the disconnected

While we like to think of innovators being lonely men on the mountain, only coming down, like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, to proclaim great revelations, the truth is that significant breakthroughs usually come from synthesizing ideas from different domains.
One famous historical example is that of the discovery of genetics.
In 1865, when Gregor Mendel published his groundbreaking study of inheritance of characteristics in pea plants, it went nowhere.
It had taken nearly a half-century before the concept was combined with Darwin’s natural selection to unleash a torrent of innovations in medicine and science.

Apple business innovation … problem-based on customer input

Zara is one of the greatest examples of process innovation. The founder, Armancio Ortega started his business in the year 1975 as a single store in La Coruña (Spain).
Ortega, once a tailor’s assistant learned the value of controlling all steps of the production and distribution process, later he applied it all to the Zara chain.
And he started refining the process steps based on this critical concept.
Every day, store managers report customer feedback information to headquarters, where it is then transmitted to a huge team of in-house designers, who quickly develop new designs and send them to factories to be turned into clothes.
Echevarría said that is because the customer is always determining production — not the other way around. An interesting thought isn’t it?
Every piece of clothing the company makes has, in a way, been requested. A business model that is so closely attuned to the customer does not share the cycle of a financial crisis.

Innovation Stories … Fail Fast, Persistence, and WD-40

Apple business innovation … be constantly open to new ideas

We need to be constantly open to new ideas, particularly in different fields of endeavor.
The secret to innovation and creativity is curiosity. You generate lots of ideas to find the best of the best. By creating ideas, you start by asking lots of questions.
By being curious. By thinking widely and not discarding ideas too soon.  By convergent thinking.
All of which help us to understand better and define the problem we are attempting to solve.
Without the question “why?” there can be no here’s how to make it better. Or no game-changing innovations.
The next big thing always starts out looking like nothing at all. If it was easy to see coming, everybody would be doing it already and the market impact would be minimal. So you can never create something truly new based on what you already know. The only way to find it is to start looking.
Not all who wander are lost. The trick is to wander with a purpose.

The bottom line

Our message for businesses is simple. Think more like an innovator. Learn the innovation process.
Spend time at the front end on what the marketplace needs, rather than trying to build a slick marketing campaign selling your invention. That is the best way to success.
Innovation isn’t about talking; it’s about doing. The action. So get moving and begin your journey from accidental innovator to a high-performance innovation business leader.
Like anything else, fostering creative business ideas require practice. So exercise and practice this skill and utilize it in as many areas of your business as you can.
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Need some help in improving the innovation process for you and your staff? Innovative ideas to help the differentiation with your toughest competitors? Or maybe ways to innovate new products and services?
Call today for aFREEconsultation or aFREEquote. Learn about some options for innovation workshops to get noticeable results.
Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that struggle gets better every day you learn and apply new innovative ideas.
When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Do you have a lesson about making your innovation learning better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed at how reasonable we will be.
More reading on creativity and innovation from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:
Learn How to Think What No One Else Thinks
Generating Ideas by Convergent Thinking
Amazon and Managing Innovation … the Jeff Bezos Vision
The Secrets to Building an Innovative Culture
Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+FacebookTwitter, Digital Spark Marketing, and LinkedIn.
How the Apple Business Innovation Process Works
Tagged on: adding value    Apple business innovation    Apple management structure    Apple team    future growth    how to innovate

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