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Innovation Lessons From ‘The Big Apple’

Ten years or so ago Apple Computer was almost bankrupt. Fast forward and Apple (the company no longer uses the word computer) is now regularly cited as the most innovative company in the world. So what can we learn from the comeback kid?

Rule #1
Orchestrate and integrate. Ideas can come from anywhere, including outside the company. For example, the iPod was originally dreamt up by a consultant and most of its parts were off the shelf.

Rule #2
Build products around the needs of users. This may sound obvious but too many products are still designed by engineers or marketers for engineers or marketers.
Thus Apple places the emphasis on simplicity (such as design) rather than complexity. For example, the iPod wasn’t the first digital music player into the market but it was probably the first that was easy to use.

Rule #3
Trust your instinct. Don’t allow the customer to dictate what you do. This may seem contradictory to Rule #2 but customers can only tell you about what already exists.
As Akito Morita (the founder of Sony) once said: “The public doesn’t know what is possible but we do.” Also don’t forget that as well as measuring public opinion or tracking the latest trends you can create both.

Rule #4
There’s no success like failure. Fail often, fail fast and fail well. In other words, don’t be afraid to make a mistake but always learn from your mistakes – in Apple’s case products like the Apple Lisa and Newton.

Rule #5
Safe is risky. Develop products that define new categories and markets rather than products that compete in existing markets.

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