As the title says, this is a rant. There will be lessons here but nothing quite so direct. So here goes…
I’ve been feeling it for the last couple of years.
There were many signs, many indicators that suggest this company is no longer the same.
Some would call it denial while some would say it’s just me trying to have faith in what I saw in this company many years ago.
It’s really kind of heartbreaking when I reminisce of how you started.
You were the new kid on the block. Multiple funny and sometimes sad stories of how painfully under resourced, undermanned and underfunded you were. But it didn’t matter, the select few you had shared the same set of values and beliefs and fought with blood, sweat and tears to bring the company out of the rut. It wasn’t easy, there were ups and downs, a couple of hits and misses here and there but everybody was passionate about seeing the company succeed and it wasn’t long until you became class leading.
You were quite the trailblazer. Everybody was watching your seemingly unstoppable growth. The industry held you with so much high regard. You were the one to watch.
You had a clear sense of purpose. You had a clear sense of WHY. Every single employee understood the company’s purpose and why the company existed. Even people not part of the company (who longed to be part of it) understood what you were all about – To be the best, to challenge all conventional norms, to be the unmistakable example of excellence.
And then just like any empire in stories of old, your success became your weakness. You grew too big too fast, leaders were brought in who didn’t share or even at the least understood the values, the real WHY.
- It became about being profitable above all else, when it used to be about being the best and being excellent.
- It became about gaining more customers versus taking care of and cultivating the ones you already had.
- It became about keeping the shareholders happy.
Personally, there is nothing wrong about wanting to be profitable except that it should be a result of being excellent at what you did.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting more customers but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your existing ones. Word-of-mouth, advocacy is the genuine and sustainable way to gaining more customers.
This is my personal take about the difference between the leadership of Steve Jobs versus Tim Cook.
If you think about it Apple stock is at an all-time high, so shareholders couldn’t be happier. OK, I realize how unfair that comparison is. Especially if you start thinking about how Steve didn’t care about the shareholders more than he did about challenging nay breaking the status quo. (The result of which was exponential financial benefit that eventually made shareholders happy) versus removing the headphone jack and gain 8% revenue tacked on iPhone sales (because you own the patents for the lightning jack)
So why does it feel wrong? Why doesn’t it feel like the same old company that we all admired in the past?
Could it be because we are holding them to unrealistic standards? Expecting them to come up with innovations year after year?
Could it be because the competition has gotten so much better (who else is in love with their S8+ right now?) and Apple has been content with the format and platform that they’ve perfected years ago?
Lot of easy questions to throw, answers are harder to come by.
And that’s why this is a rant. And a rant it may be but you can’t deny there are lessons in there too.