Chris Matyszczyk has a nice piece over on Cnet: What would Apple have to do to ruin your relationship?
One answer is: Be seen as violating what you consider as the moral bond between you & Apple, and Matyszczyk lists several possibilities:
- Apple starts to knock off early by producing things that look like, well, knock-offs of other Apple products. Or worse, of things that are already out there.
- So what if Apple keeps on suing to defend the patently indefensible? What if Apple sues BlackBerry with a claim that it has the patent on the, um, keyboard? Do we suddenly look at Cupertino and feel the love has died? Do we decide that we were in love with a bully and, well, nobody likes a bully?
Others, though, are more symptoms of fading agility:
- You need to feel young again. Old people wear Apple products. Your grandma has an iPad, for goodness sake.
- Suddenly that sameness isn’t reassuring any more. It’s boring. You look at the iPhone 5 and it’s a lot like the iPhone 4S. You look at the iPad Mini and it’s just like the iPad was in the dryer too long and the screen went dull.
One of the definitions Boyd gave for “agility” is “the ability to shift from one unfolding pattern of ideas and actions to another.” While it’s certainly true that you need to keep true to your underlying values — you need to keep your Schwerpunkt on “insanely great” — how you implement insanely great needs to change all the time, not just to respond to the market but to lead it.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Apple made two types of products: laptops and desktops. Where would they be today if they had limited themselves to staying great, even insanely great, on those two product lines? Jobs’s move into portable music players and the software to load and manage them, rates as one of the greatest instances of corporate agility ever.
I suggested in Certain to Win that the type of loyalty Matyszczyk describes often comes from a successful cheng / ch’i (zheng / qi) maneuver:
- Meet customer expectations (cheng)
- But at the same time, offer something the customer doesn’t expect (ch’i)
So my answer to Matyszczyk’s question is: fail to do either one.