Why MA Innovation Management – Strategy (Part 3)

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The other major pillar of Apple is its strategy – in terms of fundamental values, innovation deployment and integration. Apple is a money making machine that does not put money as a priority in anything they do. Money, profit and individual gains are considered to be corrupt values and not

The other major pillar of Apple is its strategy – in terms of fundamental values, innovation deployment and integration. Apple is a money making machine that does not put money as a priority in anything they do. Money, profit and individual gains are considered to be corrupt values and not goals by themselves. The goal is more tangible, more final and culturally relevant. It is to create great products and experiences. And once the money issue is smoothed aside the risk issue seems to dissolve by itself too: ‘Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose’ (Steve Jobs). Once freed of this thinking trap the path is free for divergence, convergence and the boldness to “propose” something new to people. Something, for which there are no feasibility reports, no market research, and no competitor analyses. All of this is what Roger Martin calls proof of reliability. Only money oriented and risk aware people ask for reliability. But innovation is about opportunity not about risk. So one of the first tasks is to free oneself of obstacles for deterritorialisation, the ability to diverge and move beyond the self-set borders of thinking and doing. And only people without corrupt values can truly innovate. Much of the teamwork at MA Innovation Management deals with risk, fear and moving beyond the borders of that circle of comfort.

 

The next pillar of Apple’s strategy is deployment of innovation. Many people and teams are able to innovate, but these bright ideas die on the way to realisation. When you feed something bold into the beginning of a chain of realisation and materialisation the output on the other side of that chain is usually mediocre at best. There are many reasons for this; one are the corrupt values mentioned before but also comfortability is a big showstopper. So how to overcome these? One solution is the design processes. This will be discussed  at a later point. The other indispensable solution is the dictator, the driver of change. The one whom everyone thinks to have a ‘reality distortion field’, the one with the power to push everyone else out of their comfort zone, the one who believes in that bold and bright idea, the one design driven figure, the one who drums up all members of the realisation chain at the beginning who forces them to accept and commit to boldness, the one who forces everyone else to mission impossible, the one with exemplary values. If the head of an organisation is not that person that organisation is doomed to die.  This is part of many of our discussions: who innovates, the team or the individual? In the case of Apple it is both. The team and the one individual innovate. The individual forces the deployment through the team.

 

Another topic that is part of our daily discussions is openness versus closeness. Apple is believed to be a closed system, Google and Microsoft are believed to be open systems.  In my opinion neither is true. Rather, I believe that collaboration is the key. Employees are forced to collaborate by avoiding facilitators of silo-ing like profit centres. Lack of collaboration is a reason for dismissal.  But not only are employees motivated to collaborate but things are designed to collaborate and talk to each other in the same language. The system is aligned and integrated. And this integration makes things more the way people want them (remember empathy?): ‘to just work’.

 

But marketing and strategy, the topics I have been talking so far, need to be deployed through the right instrument. And this instrument is more a way of thinking than a proper tool: I am talking about design.