Thursday, August 9, 2012

Working For Another Big Company

I just watched a video that was recorded last Tuesday of Harry McCracken moderating a discussion with Ken Segall. Segall worked very closely with Steve Jobs, for many years, at Apple's ad agency.

Segall raises a great point about the key difference between Apple and other big tech companies which was originally stated by Jony Ive: Apple doesn't set out to make a profit, rather, the company sets out to make great products and if they do that well, profit ensues.

Ok, so what? That's no secret, is it?

Segall goes on, in the video, to contrast Apple's attitude with Dell's where the latter focuses on measuring clicks throughs.

Apple's key focus, since Steve Jobs' returned in 1997, was simply to provide the best possible user experience.

So, why do so many companies not "get it?" It's not what Apple does, it's how.

A big part of it is that many big companies misprioritize their focus. Specifically, the CEO works for the board of directors and they, in turn, answer to the shareholders. The company's focus is on maximizing shareholder value every quarter.

But, ultimately - in the long term - it's the customer who decides the profitability of any company. If you have something the customer is eager to pay for then you're golden.

Trust me when I say that your customers aren't going to pay you because you increased click throughs on your website by 10%.

Steve had the luxury of answering to a very friendly board of directors and he simply paid lip service to the shareholder's short term desires. It's not easy to amass this much power. When Steve returned to Apple, he fired nearly the entire board.

How many people, other than Steve Jobs, were concurrently the CEO of two multibillion dollar companies for years? I cannot think of a single person.

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