Eight Things Apple Does Better Than Your Company

| Hidden Dimensions

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn..” — Alvin Toffler

Early last decade, Apple got a reputation for doing some things differently than other companies. Amidst the surfeit of Windows in the enterprise, those policies were seen as offbeat and ultimately ineffectual — even though they made perfect sense. Ten years later, those decisions are paying off in spades while Apple’s competitors are suffering, financially embarrassed by the effects of Apple’s long term thinking.

Those of us who have written about Apple for a long time noted and wrote about some interesting decisions Apple was making when Mr. Jobs returned, but naysayers pointed out that Windows continued to dominate. So there was no observable impact at first. In fact, it just took some time for things to snowball. Here’s my own recap of some decisions Apple made for the the long run that have resulted in Apple’s enormous success today.

1. Apple used to be simply a computer company, as evidenced by its former name, “Apple Computer, Inc.” Apple’s mission was to sell computers in competition with PCs. Apple lost that war. Then one day, I suspect, Apple executives got together and said: the Mac is so superior to Windows PCs, but customers aren’t listening. There’s too much market momentum. So what would happen if we used the excellence of the Mac, instead, to leverage our company in the consumer electronics marketplace?”

Along the way, Apple not only built the best computer on the planet, but the company put one on every employee’s desk. That’s not because, duh, Apple makes the Mac. It’s because if the Mac is so good, having all of Apple’s regular employees use one for years and years should ultimately have some positive effect. Otherwise, Apple has just been wasting its time and breath developing OS X.

I believe that that superiority of the Mac in the hands of every Apple employee is now like a Katamari ball, leading to a very positive advantage. Back in the 1990’s companies asked themselves, what’s the best system to give our employees so we can compete in the 21st century? Apple supplied the answer. Few understood and are now paying the price.

MBA

2. The first item is just the 30,000 ft. view. In some detail, Apple made the commitment to move OS X technologies forward as fast as humanly possible. Every possible impediment to success was discarded. Every temptation to cater to government and business that would have locked Apple into older technologies, just because IT managers don’t like to learn and change, were steadfastly resisted. (I have a personal story about that and the U.S. Navy, but I am reluctant to go into details for the sake of everyone involved.)

While Apple appeared to be forsaking developers by rushing forward at a breathless pace, Apple executives realized that the only way Apple could give itself the technologies needed to compete (and win) was to leap past the PC era into the post-PC era. The result, as I’ve said before, is that not only Apple’s competition but PC-based businesses have been trying to move into the future with the tools of the past. It can’t be done.

Apple’s approach suggests the explanation for why Apple envisioned and shipped the iPad, not some other company.

The key to this has been development technologies and tools that allowed both Apple engineers and the developer community to build not just apps but app-building tools faster and better than the competition. The result is that developers are now saying that developing for WP7 and RIM is a pain and developing for the iPhone is a joy. Even as I acknowledge Apple’s head start, it’s telling that the iPad has 100,000 native apps while Android/Honeycomb has just a few hundred.

3. Once you have a superior computing system, let your employees manage their own computers. Apple’s rule is this: if you’re not smart enough to manage a Macintosh on your own, you’re not smart enough to work for us. It’s that simple.

How many people do you know who’ve been given a PC notebook with Windows XP by their employer, but they’re not allowed to manage it in any way? It must be taken into the IT department for updates. Administrative privileges are denied. The company whines that it’s too expensive to update to Windows 7 and a Windows 7 capable PC. If this is the kind of computer given to employees, is it any wonder they can’t compete against Apple or anyone else?

Apple’s IT group is amazing. They work behind the scenes to maintain operational capability and security. A fabulous call center helps employees with the occasional technical issue. The one thing they do not do is strangle the company with dictums. And they absolutely don’t get in the way of how employees use their Macs imaginatively for their own learning and technical development.

4. Don’t let your VPs have too much control or they’ll start to protect their turf, kill off internal competition, starve the R&D people to cut costs and then pad their own pockets with bonuses.

Make sure every VP has a passion to change the world, not just their assigned parking spot.

Ferrari

Tie VP compensation to stock growth and and profits of his or her division, not the company as a whole. That way, if a project isn’t making money, it must be ruthlessly cancelled. Customers will tell the VP if his products are insanely great, not the other way around.

The role of most non-technical managers is to manage resources for the good of the company — not them — and assist the staff with day-to-day human issues. If they aren’t managing time, money and resources for the benefit of the people who work for them, then they don’t have the management training and disposition you need to succeed.

5. Attract and hire the best talent on the planet. To do that, like Apple, you’ll have to make sure hiring authority remains firmly in the hands of technical managers, not HR. Many companies say they want the best talent, but they’re ambivalent when it comes to paying for it — or letting smart technical managers personally attract and hire great talent.

Create a learning organization so that your employees learn and adapt faster than the competition. As W. Edwards Deming said, “Learning is not compulsory — neither is survival.”

A sure sign that your employees have lost confidence in you and each other is when you see Dilbert cartoons tacked to the cubicle walls. In all the years I worked for Apple, I never saw a single Dilbert cartoon in the offices. Apple employees have a lot of respect for each other, and while some decisions that are made are brutal, they’re also pretty darn smart. You’ll know you’re on the road to success when all the Dilbert cartoons at your company are gone.

6. Don’t consume your company’s precious capital by constructing a new office building until you have money to burn. Apple, the richest company in the world, has survived in barely adequate offices at 1 Infinite Loop for many, many years. Only recently has the company allowed itself the luxury of envisioning a fabulous new HQ, and it will still make only a small dent in the capital reserves.

Apple Campus

Some companies are in too big a hurry to create an outward sign of their success with new facilities, catering to the hubris of senior executives, long before they’ve secured their future. While Apple runs a lean operation and forces smart decisions through austerity, I’ve also seen Apple judiciously roll money down where it’s needed, not upwards where it creates resentment.

7. Committees don’t design great products. Talented individuals conceive great products. If your current talent isn’t conceiving and delivering products people want to buy, it’s time for a change. No one’s job should be secure.

Pit development teams against each other. Work furiously to build new products that make your current products (and thereby the competition’s) obsolete.

8. Steve Capps, formerly with Apple and on the original Finder team, once said that, at Apple, the product manager and the engineers worship at the alter of the product. Bad approaches are ditched. The product manager has the authority to kill the product and start over. One can’t worship the schedule, and yet, as Steve Jobs has said, a great artist ships. That’s why Apple products are simple and intuitive on day one. They gradually grow with the customer.

The Staggering Result

Apple adopted these approaches right after Steve Jobs returned to Apple. At first, nothing exciting seemed to be happening. But after years of steadfast adherence to these policies, Apple is now winning and winning big. Apple is just about the most valuable company on the planet.

I haven’t enumerated every policy and approach that Apple has taken up. Also, volumes have been written about Apple’s other virtues: great product design, intuitive GUIs, the art of surprise and delight, making the whole greater than the sum of the parts, shrewd use of capital, giving the customer what they need — before they realize they need it and so on. However, if you consider just these items above, items that your business has control over, it’s clear that they’ve paid huge dividends for Apple in the long run.

Now you have to ask yourself: why is my company different? Why can’t we succeed and make more money? Why aren’t customers standing in line for our products? Can we ignore these approaches and not pay a heavy penalty down the road?

The items above are just a few that come to my mind, based on my own experience with Apple. How does your company compare?

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Comments

brett_x

Great article overall, but I have to take strong exception with #3.

I’ve been at 2 of the largest employers in my state and involved in managing the Macs at each. The people we deal with are not Apple employees. They’re not hired because of their computer skills, and they mostly don’t care about software licensing. The statement ” if you?re not smart enough to manage a Macintosh on your own, you?re not smart enough to work for us” doesn’t work outside of the IT world.

You do have to protect them from themselves, and your company from illegal software installations and mismatched software versions amongst employees. Give them admin rights, and they’ll be entering their password any time they’re prompted for it. If they don’t have the latest software and they hear there’s a better version - they’ll “find it” on the internets and try to install it if they think they can. Granted, giving admin rights to Mac users is way safer than PC users due to the rarity of malware. But it does exist, and would certainly get installed given a chance.

Another plus side of Macs though - most applications things don’t need admin rights.  I haven’t managed PC’s running Win7, but it was a rare case that users on previous Windows versions could actually get by without admin rights. Since most applications are bundles on the Mac, they run without dependencies of changing system level files.  Yes, this means they can usually install apps without admin rights, it also means they’ll only screw up their own account on the machine if they do.

YodaMac

The statement ? if you?re not smart enough to manage a Macintosh on your own, you?re not smart enough to work for us? doesn?t work outside of the IT world.

You do have to protect them from themselves, and your company from illegal software installations and mismatched software versions amongst employees. Give them admin rights, and they?ll be entering their password any time they?re prompted for it. If they don?t have the latest software and they hear there?s a better version - they?ll ?find it? on the internets and try to install it if they think they can.

Wow! Really?  This is the exactly the insulting IT snobbery that makes work so miserable and unproductive for the rest of us.  News Flash: IT geek squads are not the only people technologically inclined.  Many of us CAN handle managing our computers quite nicely thanks and perform jobs that, gasp, may even be as important as IT jobs.

We should be able to enter our passwords when prompted.  It’s our password not yours.

We should be able to research, download and install the latest version of whatever software we need to do our jobs.  It’s our job not yours.

If we somehow mess up, then our head is on the chopping block for it as it should be.  We don’t need or want you to “protect us from ourselves”!  That’s NOT your job.

delmiller

John,

You’re reference to “The Fifth Discipline” was noted with satisfaction. It is the BEST management textbook ever written. I’ve read it three times.

Del

Nikolai

YodaMac - while there are those outside of the IT section who can manage their systems, the majority cannot. Sorry to say, in my 25 to 30 years in the industry, I have experienced enough to say people do not do the research, and are too lazy to perform on their own. Unless they are searching for ridiculous jokes to pass around or NSFW material, the majority are lost or lazy when it comes to performing the simplest Google search to answer their dilemma. There is a reason the acronym RTFM exists.

WirelessCat

I take exception to brett_x’s comments!  I am a current Apple employee, and I can verify that there is NO IT handholding or management of individual machines here!  On day one, I was given my Mac, told where to plug it in, and a few other bits of info like my email account set up stuff.  That was about it.

That was it!  Even in a corporate environment, the Mac is THAT easy to use, and THAT free of all the usual crapola that folks using Windows machines have to deal with.  Please also remember that, like any large company, Apple has lots of non-techies—accounting, marketing, etc.  These people ALSO manage to somehow become useful with their computers.  Sure, a few might need a few hints, but for the most part, it just works!

I’ve been at Apple for nine years as an engineering manager, and I can’t imagine working anyplace else—I’m spoiled!

John Martellaro

YodaMac:

, I have experienced enough to say people do not do the research, and are too lazy to perform on their own.

Wireless Cat:

Please also remember that, like any large company, Apple has lots of non-techies?accounting, marketing, etc.  These people ALSO manage to somehow become useful with their computers.

Anyone else seeing the difference in the two companies and the people they hire?  grin  My thesis is that this is exactly what has propelled Apple to success.

Lee Dronick

just because IT managers don?t like to learn and change, were steadfastly resisted. (I have a personal story about that and the U.S. Navy, but I am reluctant to go into details for the sake of everyone involved.)

I have a sea story, well shore duty story, about me, an Apple IIc and a pencil neck geek from the mainframe room.

geoduck

Wow! Really?  This is the exactly the insulting IT snobbery that makes work so miserable and unproductive for the rest of us.  News Flash: IT geek squads are not the only people technologically inclined. 

Many of us CAN handle managing our computers quite nicely thanks and perform jobs that, gasp, may even be as important as IT jobs.

OK I gotta jump in here. As a ~20 year veteran of the IT trenches. I do try to give people as much power as they can handle. Trouble is that more often than not when someone says they are “technologically inclined” and they “can handle it” I will absolutely for sure be cleaning the ILoveYou malware off of their system. I had a Controller that said almost verbatum what you said. A month later he’d installed so much malware and crapware I had to nuke his system and he lost many hours of work. The OS and every document was infected with Malware, from viruses, to VBscript bugs.

We should be able to enter our passwords when prompted.  It?s our password not yours.

No it’s not. It’s the companies password and and account, not yours, andit’s up to IT to make sure that security assets like the password are protected. That’s why SysAdmins have the right to go in and change the password to the account at any time.

We should be able to research, download and install the latest version of whatever software we need to do our jobs.  It?s our job not yours.

Depends on the position. If you are a software or web developer then sure, and we will grant you as full a rights as we can. If you’re a receptionist, or call center staff, then not a chance. It IS our job in those cases to say what you need to do your job. In the offices that I support we use OpenOffice. It’s the company standard. I hear a lot of whining from people about how they want Word. Tough Toenails. The company has set on a standard for both technical and financial reasons and it is my job to enforce that standard.

If we somehow mess up, then our head is on the chopping block for it as it should be.  We don?t need or want you to ?protect us from ourselves?!  That?s NOT your job.

Yes it is my job. It’s EXACTLY my job. Part of the reason that it is is because if you ‘mess up’ you will introduce malware into the network and the next thing you know several hundred systems are down and there is no good way of tracing it back to you. So no your head is not on the chopping block. MINE IS for “letting this happen”, a statement I’ve heard many times when one of my users has ‘messed up’ and brought the system to its knees.

So you do what you do and I’ll do what I need to make your job AND THE JOB OF EVERYONE ELSE ON THE NETWORK run as smoothly as possible.

brett_x

News Flash: IT geek squads are not the only people technologically inclined.? Many of us CAN handle managing our computers quite nicely thanks and perform jobs that, gasp, may even be as important as IT jobs.

We should be able to research, download and install the latest version of whatever software we need to do our jobs.? It?s our job not yours.

I could say that that is just the snobbery that IT people dislike. But I get that, and agree that IT does work in order for other people to do their job. I never said that there aren’t people that can handle their own machines. There are plenty. And I’m talking about enterprise companies.

But my role at these employers has been to get everyone’s job done. Not just one person’s. If someone goes and installs an updated version of a Adobe Creative Suite, for example, nobody else can work on the files they touch. And end users don’t do the testing and research necessary to know what kind of problems the new suite may cause. In fact, they often don’t care. All they want is one new feature that they read about.

Worse is when the software is pirated.

And John and Wirelesscat, I’m still in the camp that Apple is going to attract a different kind of person to begin with, and I think that’s why it works at Apple.

I work at a small company right now, and we do have a similar policy as Apple. Full access, and we can do what we want/need to do. And it works very well. It just doesn’t scale all that well when you get into enterprise level.

WirelessCat

A month later he?d installed so much malware and crapware I had to nuke his system and he lost many hours of work. The OS and every document was infected with Malware, from viruses, to VBscript bugs.

And, um, this malware and VBscript bugs are a problem with what OS?  Oh yeah, thought so!

You are proving my point exactly. not refuting it.

Dude, wake up and smell the Mac-flavored Java!  I know it seems impossible to imagine such a universe if you’ve spent your whole life keeping Controllers’ Windows machines virus-free.

I didn’t want this to degenerate into a Mac vs. PC endless loop, but the author’s original assertion in point number 3 is absolutely true (at least, at Apple) and it can be done.  That was his point!

And yes, even our receptionists manage their own Macs!

mhikl

This is why TMO rocks. I’d like to respond but I’m too dazzled by the diamonds that must be examined and I have exhausted my words for the day.

Might this not describe the competition??You can put a dress on swine but that doesn’t hide the fact that it is a pig.

sflocal

@geoduck -  I agree.  The folks to worry about are the ones that “think” they are technically inclined but they are their own worst enemy.  They are too dangerous for their own good and think they know better.

I administer a network of Windows PC’s.  It’s always a battle with the front-line workers I’m constantly getting bombarded by requests for them to use their corporate machine like it was their own personal computer.

Then later, they ask me to take a look at their personal computer only to find it infected with viruses, malware, etc.  These are the guys that “think” they know more than they really do!

When it comes the Apple side I work with, they really do work on their own and need little (if any) assistance from me.  I like that.

geoduck

You are proving my point exactly. not refuting it.

Actually you are oblivious the the most significant bit of information.

It is not your password
It is not your account
It is not your computer
It is not your server
It is not your network

It belongs to the company. The company sets standards, it is the company that is liable for violations of those standards. It is my job to enforce those standards. If you’re running a Mac well bully for you. It makes my job easier but it does not make it go away.

If you are one of the very few that own your own computer that you bring to work, fine, but I still have a say in what happens when you connect to the network. Network and system security is not your job. It is my job.

In addition as I suggested above we set company standards for more than just malware protection. We run OpenOffice. That is our standard. If we let you install MSOffice on your system then your documents will not be compatible with everyone else’s. If illegal software, such as a bootleg copy of Office is found on your system and we have allowed it to be connected to the company network then the company is liable for the violation.

You do not live in a vacuum. Unless you are a freelancer that just e-mails your work into the company it is my job to make sure you mix and play well with others. You have a full time job. So do I don’t try to do my full time job too. You may be ‘technically inclined’ but you do not have my training and experience. Would you demand that your dentist hand over the drill because you are good with power tools? No? Then don’t assume you have the training or experience to do my job either.

There is far to IT than just snobbery. I know the whole picture. You know your little corner of it. I try to go along with user requests whenever possible but sometimes when I say no there is a very good reason up the line. that reason likely doesn’t show up on your local horizon.

aardman

I like #4. From what I read, the problems over in Redmond are in large part due to turf-jealous division heads who willingly sabotage corporate-wide goals if those goals end up reducing their turf. 

Aardman’s Management Rule #3.1.2:  In any successful company, there can be at most one empire-builder, and it can only be the CEO.  No one else.

John Martellaro

“What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?” Meeoow.*

We learned that Apple’s receptionists are more computer savvy than the technical staff at some other companies.

There is delicious irony throughout the discussion.

“Say good night, Geoff.”

____
* http://www.cbs.com/late_night/late_late_show/

brett_x

Well, John. I thought about it some more on my way home. And I think I missed a very important element of your #3 argument- accountability.

The places I’ve been have never held any end user accountable for any of the IT related problems they have caused. No matter what the issue is, it’s always been up to IT to solve the problem:
Did you install a crappy free version of a font and embed it in your work that everyone else also has to work on? No problem. Just call IT. They’ll have to purchase a good version, and get it installed on everyone’s computer. Today. Before the printer deadline.

So if that were in fact an employment offense, of sorts, people would think first before doing something that only serves their purpose.

In that scenario, I can see how #3 might actually work out.

vasic

Actually you are oblivious the the most significant bit of information.

It is not your password
It is not your account
It is not your computer
It is not your server
It is not your network

It belongs to the company. The company sets standards, it is the company that is liable for violations of those standards. It is my job to enforce those standards.

Therein lies the fundamental difference. What John is saying is, Apple, as a company, with some 46000 employees, huge number of which aren’t IT people, is somehow successfully managing IT security and standards without rigid, strictly enforced rules.

Is it possible that, if you give your staff a computer with a few simple guidelines, they would actually observe those guidelines? You know, stuff such as: OpenOffice is standard, please don’t use MS Office for work.

I believe it wouldn’t completely destroy corporate IT infrastructure if users were allowed to chose their own mail client (Mac Mail, or Entourage, or Outlook, or Thunderbird), browser, or other standard-based tool. Obviously, some standards are agreed upon for interoperability (Photoshop/Illustrator/Indesign, say, CS5, and NOT CS5.5 for the design dept.), but others can be chosen by users without impact.

If you hire smart people, and give them basic, no-nonsense permissive set of rules, they will follow them, so there won’t be any need to restrict and enforce complex security policies.

geoduck

Therein lies the fundamental difference. What John is saying is, Apple, as a company, with some 46000 employees, huge number of which aren?t IT people, is somehow successfully managing IT security and standards without rigid, strictly enforced rules.

Apple is a very special, very unusual place. The rest of the world does not work like that.

Is it possible that, if you give your staff a computer with a few simple guidelines, they would actually observe those guidelines? You know, stuff such as: OpenOffice is standard, please don?t use MS Office for work.

No, and I am so sure because several places I’ve worked, including where I work now, the owners of the company outrank everyone and our rules become guidelines that we explain carefully. It’s a constant battle to keep them online. They screw things up on a regular basis because they don’t know as much as they think they do. Even though some are using Macs they’re always messing something up. Really how hard is it to backup your work to the network or delete the document not the Application? I even came in one day and found one of the owners had gone out and bought a new computer because his was “dead”. It was a minor drive corruption issue and in an hour I had it running again. I once loaned an Accountant an iBook for the weekend. THAT NIGHT I got a call because the thing wouldn’t boot. It was running OS-10.4. I have no idea how he screwed it up so badly but I had to do a Nuke and Pave to get it running. Another time I got severely reamed by the head of Payroll. I had explaned to her about saving her work, do it regularly, do it each time you take a call or leave your seat, do it when you shut down at night. A week later she called because her data was all gone. She knew enough to go in and turn off auto saving (it was bothering her) but never saved. She then proceeded to enter data in an EXCEL spreadsheet without saving or quitting for FOUR DAYS. Each night she would lock the screen and walk away to start again in the morning. After FOUR DAYS Excel froze and she lost everything. These are real world stories of real world users.

I believe it wouldn?t completely destroy corporate IT infrastructure if users were allowed to chose their own mail client (Mac Mail, or Entourage, or Outlook, or Thunderbird), browser, or other standard-based tool.

ROTFL See the above comment. Where I work now Thunderbird is the company std on both Mac and PC. A couple of the owners insist that Outlook is “better”. They constantly have trouble but “can’t be bothered” to learn the standard.

If you hire smart people.


And therein lies the heart of the difference. I don’t do hiring. People are hired because of their telephone skills or sales skills or accounting skills or construction skills. If we hire a plumber or a call centre worker we want them to be good at that. Not only do they specifically NOT look for IT skills, I’ve been told by Administration that it is specifically NOT their job. What’s more I’ve been told by the workers themselves that it’s not their job. That’s an attitude I’ve found most everywhere I’ve worked. IT is viewed as a utility in the same class as the lights and plumbing. The workers expect it to be working and if it isn’t they make a call. (FWIW I’ve gotten calls to fix lighting and plumbing too. It’s not my job but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.)

Maybe Apple is truly a special place. I don’t know. Dreamed of working there at one time but did not want to live in Silicon Valley. All I know is that everywhere I’ve worked, the job of IT is keep systems running so the users do not have to do anything outside of their job. Success is measured by uptime.

If that’s considered as arrogant or snobby then Mike Holmes is arrogant and snobby too because that’s the same attitude he takes to his construction projects. Get it done right so the homeowner (or the user in this case) won’t have to worry about it.

CityGuide

When I first joined the IT group in my company, the largest of our many LANs had 300 workstations. Today it’s well over 100,000. It would be impossible to administer without imaged and locked-down desktops unless we spent a lot of money doing so. As a financial services company, IT is a cost, not profit center, and we aren’t going to spend money to support “personal’ workstations as a default. As geoduck points out, individuals don’t really want to worry about governance compliance, Sarbanes-Oxley record-keeping, archiving electronic communications on WORM storage to satisfy SEC regulations, HIPAA confidentiality, etc. Centralized management allows us to do this for staff who have other jobs to do.

And that speaks to John’s question, “How does your company compare?” Among my jobs in that long-ago IT department was supporting the executive office. The CTO and his admin were the only ones using Macs in the executive suite. A bookshelf in his office held a dozen copies of “Apple Human Interface Guidelines: The Apple Desktop Interface”, and he gave a copy to every business-school intern he hosted. At the time the stated message from the CEO was for every individual business unit in the company to operate as if their survival depended on its success. The guideline from IT was to use technology help make the product they offered as easy to understand, transparent and useful as possible. The book was used to illustrate what to consider when creating those products.  Both the CTO and CEO are now long gone, but we have grown and prospered since then and those principles remain part of our culture.

iJack

Apple is a very special, very unusual place. The rest of the world does not work like that.

Isn’t that the whole point of John’s article?  The rest of the world is indeed not like that, to their detriment.

Lancashire-Witch

I’m not so sure Apple’s success over the last few years is down to the visionary Apple Executives in John’s first point.

I think the launch point was Microsoft’s attempt(s) to get people (that’s individual consumers, not organisations) off Windows XP.  The move to Vista (and subsequently Windows 7) and the need to purchase new hardware led many people to reconsider their relationship with Microsoft and PCs.  I know several people who decided to move to a Mac at that time. Microsoft dropped the ball and Apple was ready, willing and able to pick it up and run like hell with it - all the way to the bank.

As always, I could be wrong.

Lafael

I have worked two places for several years where users had admin rights on winXP. It worked OK. And I worked a third place where I didn’t - and the IT-experience really was not good. Now Im in a complex organization (a university hospital) still with admin rights on win. But when somethings fail - the laptop will just be tanked - and what wasnt on server or another backup is lost. Kind of freedom under responsibility.

But for an OS company it?s probably essential: If the majority of your workers can?t operate the computer themselves - it just doesn?t work well and safely enough.

Ross Edwards

A week later she called because her data was all gone. She knew enough to go in and turn off auto saving (it was bothering her) but never saved. She then proceeded to enter data in an EXCEL spreadsheet without saving or quitting for FOUR DAYS.

Sounds like Apple might have been on to something with this whole Lion auto-save thing after all! smile

brett_x

I guess what bugs me about #3 , John, is that you seem to imply that other large, non-IT companies can actually achieve the same results.

Isn’t saying: “Apple get’s their internal IT Strategy right , so everyone should model that”
A bit like saying: “Universities get their personal/professional development strategy right, so everyone should model that”  ?

Apple has huge advantages that can’t easily be replicated elsewhere. Primarily, their IT costs (besides salaries) are hugely offset by their own development.

A university’s professional development costs are drastically reduced since their employees can sit in on classes that are being offered anyway.

And if a University employee need some guidance and direction with their professional development, they can often turn to the person to their left, or their right for some advice. If not, a call to the guidance department will take care of it.

Likewise, if an admin assistant is having a problem with her computer at Apple, the software engineer that sits behind her is probably the first person to hear about it. If they can’t help, there’s always the help desk.. Which probably consist of some of the best help desk people in the world to begin with. I would imagine their “first call resolution” is extremely high.

I’m sure there are much better analogies than this. But you get my point.

Anyway, I do agree that Apple is a good platform to apply that #3 strategy, which is why it works really well at the small company I am with now.
But, then again, we are a small company and we do have the accountability that I mentioned in my last post:
Our accountability includes (but isn’t limited to) a wooden duck dressed in a raincoat that gets placed on your desk when you do something “fowl”. I’ve seen the duck been relocated for :
Spilling coffee on your laptop or keyboard (Yours truly)
Sending a password over IM to someone because you were in the wrong field / window
Replying to a phishing email with company information
Getting a virus (the last guy to switch from Win XP)

John Martellaro

brett_x:  I think it was clear in the essay that I was talking about companies that compete in the marketplace. I’ll grant that a university doesn’t compete there and may Think Different, but it also seems like a perfect place for students and staff to exercise a lot of freedom, creativity and personal responsibility.

brett_x

brett_x:? I think it was clear in the essay that I was talking about companies that compete in the marketplace.

Actually, John, I don’t think it’s that clear at all. With all due respect, because I do think it’s an otherwise great article…

Your title

“Eight things Apple Does Better thanYour Company”

really threw me off to begin with. 

And ending with :

Now you have to ask yourself: why is my company different? Why can?t we succeed and make more money? Why aren?t customers standing in line for our products? Can we ignore these approaches and not pay a heavy penalty down the road?

The items above are just a few that come to my mind, based on my own experience with Apple. How does your company compare?

Didn’t help clear that up at all.

John Martellaro

brett_X:  mea culpa.  grin

gnasher729

I had a Controller that said almost verbatum what you said. A month later he?d installed so much malware and crapware I had to nuke his system and he lost many hours of work. The OS and every document was infected with Malware, from viruses, to VBscript bugs.

That’s exactly what the article said: If you are not clever enough to look after your computer, you are not clever enough to work there.

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