September 9, 2014
Should Apple Change Their Presentation Style
The date is the 9th of September 2014. It’s a Tuesday. We’re about to experience in a few short hours the annual Apple event. As we get ready to once again revel in the anticipation, the excitement, and the thrill which has accompanied each of these occasions I think it’s a good time to discuss why or when you might change a good thing. When should you change a good thing?
Apple’s Presentation: A Good Thing?
The good thing I refer to of course is the standard presentation style that Apple uses to deliver its product announcements. I assume most of you (if not all) have seen an Apple product announcement at one time or another. In case you haven’t here’s a few samples.
Yep, there’s some definite similarities. In fact you might see a very distinct pattern and wonder if that level of repetition is a good thing or if it’s time for a change. Regardless of your belief of Apple’s particular product announcements, here are 4 quick tips to consider when thinking of change.
1. Repetition can be overdone
As you can see from the above videos there is an opportunity for competitors and other market leaders to capitalize on the repetition by mocking the similarities between videos. Here are a couple of the most humorous.
Yes, repetition can be overdone and can be dangerous (if you’re not the size of Apple) and even when you are the world’s most valuable business. Be careful that your repetition doesn’t leave you vulnerable to your competition.
2. Innovation requires change
Innovation usually takes the form of new products, new ideas, or something revolutionary to an existing market. These innovations come in the form of a change to an existing status quo. The best way to help innovation is to encourage change. When you don’t encourage change you stifle the possibilities for innovation.
Yes, I realize we watch those Apple videos and each is announcing an “innovative” and “revolutionary” product. But innovation covers more than just the product. Innovation must also occur in the marketing message and in the sales strategies. When you innovate be sure you innovate everywhere.
3. Stagnation means death
Stagnation is the third thing to consider when trying to determine if change is necessary or need. If you’re not moving, you’re drowning. It’s a popular expression and one which frequently means if you’re not changing and improving then you’re business is destined to fail. While there is absolutely something to be said for consistency and for remaining stable this does not mean you cannot continue to improve your product. You should always be looking for ways to improve and grow because as my last point suggests…
4. Nothing is perfect
That’s right. Nothing is perfect. There is always room for improvement and change. Everything created, no matter how wonderful, how innovative, or how revolutionary the product might be. You must always be looking for what will make your product, your idea, or your business better. Don’t lose sight of your vision or the reasons you are in business. If you have not achieved those goals then your vision compels you to continue improving your product. This improvement requires changes. Don’t become lazy or accept mediocrity in your business.
Change can be difficult, there’s on doubt about that fact. There is an element of fear involved in change. Don’t be afraid of change. Also equally important is be sure you know when and why to change. Consider that repetition can be overdone, innovation requires change, stagnation means death, and nothing is perfect. I hope those 4 quick points are helpful as you consider Apple’s grand announcements today. Enjoy the presentation, appreciate the experience, and learn from the best (whether it be a good or a bad example).
June 18, 2014
Putting Imagination To Work
I’m always amazed to hear the things my kids say. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing they will say the “craziest” things. I usually laugh about it and move on. The other day though it hit me. Somewhere along the way most adults lose the imagination they had when they were kids. This is sad because I believe imagination can be one of the most powerful abilities to have in life…and in business.
Imagination at the Office
Imagination in the workplace? Sounds a bit crazy. I mean daydreaming at your desk can get you fired can’t it? Maybe the problem is the demand put on people to be nothing more than drones or robots. Humans are imaginative, creative creatures. It’s wrong to stifle that creativity and the result is a very difficult work environment. Those who do dare to be creative, to rebel against the drone mentality are often rebuked by others, shunned as being disruptive, or worst of all simply ignored. We lose the imagination and the creativity we once held captive as a child. And it can be nearly impossible to regain.
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Dare to Dream
That’s a catchy little title, Dare to Dream, but I don’t mean what you probably think first. Let’s look at the two main words, and lets look at dream first. I don’t mean inspiration dreaming, the accomplishing-great-things type of dreaming. Instead I mean the natural, deep-seated creative dreaming. Think “crazy” and see what happens. Don’t stop yourself and analyze every aspect of an idea – just dream.
And secondly, dare. Dare implies just by nature some level of risk is involved. As I mentioned earlier dreaming is frowned upon (usually) and as a result most people are a bit intimidated about the idea of dreaming. Dare yourself to dream. Take a chance, and be risky. Force yourself to step outside the box you’ve been placed in and allow yourself to dream.
Technology has encouraged the human race to move faster. Under the pretense of simplifying our lives we have created more and more technology. This new tech has done the very opposite of what we anticipated. We are “busier” now than ever before. Our days (and now our nights) fly by at breakneck speed and most of us simply hold on for dear life and try to survive the pace. When you’re moving at this ridiculous speed you have very little time to dream.
In order to use your imagination you need to slow down a bit. Need to see this in action? Take a child for a walk. You will find yourself walking with a purpose while the little one will be meandering behind you. Everything is interesting to them; every flower, every rock, everything is a new and exciting discovery. Now think. What would you normally do here? You’d call out for them to “catch up” to “hurry” and to quit dawdling. We’ve lost the excitement of a lazy, aimless stroll. We have been conditioned by our world to always be moving fast. Slow down. Your imagination and creativity will blossom if you take the time to let your mind wander aimlessly.
Where I live there used to be a hands-on “museum” where you could engage in different games and entertainment called the imagination station. I love the name. I never thought of it in terms of business though until recently. I think its a fantastic name for a department most companies already have. Of course it has a more professional name now. Companies call this department, Research and Development (R&D). In reality though, this is the imagination station. And this department should not be limited to a specific room or building. Everyone has an imagination and should be encouraged to use it.
This is where imagination gets put to work. It seems counter intuitive to some that imagination and work should coexist. The truth is every company on earth wants imagination. They might call it R&D but more commonly you’ll hear another term used. Innovation. There it is. The holy grail for companies. If they could only innovate then they would capture market share, grow to new heights, and become the “next big thing”.
Here’s my firm belief. Innovation = Imagination. Yep, rather than fighting against imagination and “crazy” thinking – companies should encourage dreaming. There are of course some companies who get this and believe in allowing everyone the opportunity to dream. Unfortunately, I think these are the exception and not the rule. More people should be encouraged to slow down, dare to dream, and
“Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.”
– Maria Montessori
The next time you find yourself moving too fast to even think clearly – force yourself to stop. Step away from your desk. Go outside, find a new path you’ve not walked before and just meander. Pretend you’re a child exploring a new world and see the world with different eyes. Daydream. You’ll be happier, healthier, and quite possibly innovative.
I’ll leave you with a rather famous quote. It may be somewhat overused lately but it’s still very relevant and definitely worth a read.
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes … the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. … You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. … They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
– Steve Jobs