CEO tour day 3 – Apple and Method

November 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Day 3 of the study tour provided an education in the power of people and how they can propel your organisation.

Starting with Apple our brief was to understand its innovation through the customer retail experience and then we moved onto Method, the maverick, principled, cleaning products company.

At Apple we were treated to a passionate sermon from one of its many loyal parishioners who delivered a perfected performance. The presentation (or performance) included simple messages beautifully delivered; which is what we expect from the brand, and it provided insights into how Apple has been able to continually surprise and disrupt. Here’s my take on it all.

1. Apple redefine’s role’s in order to disrupt.

For example, it believes it’s stores are in the hospitality game, not retail which place a new lens across the expectation of the customer interaction, and the Genius’ role, which is to repair relationships not products. By redefining the purpose of these functions Apple have been able to empower its people, and also set new expectations on them of their role. For a Genius’ to repair a relationship, rather then just a service question, he or she must forst gain a deeper understanding of the customer need, rather than just the problems, to ensure they leave the store fully satisfied (and loyal).

2. Rituals not rules align the organisation.

Apple manages to deliver a consistent brand experience through its massive growth by empowering its workforce with clear principles and guidelines rather than strict rules. They are guided by a purpose of “enriching life’s” which extends across both customers and employees and is a very hman centred mission. When new ideas are proposed, an early filtnota plied is to assess whether it will make a better customer or employee experience, which empowers everyone to strive to improve, delight and reform.

3. Experiences are universal.

Apple has become an expert in the customer experience, which is what we went to hear about, but what what we also heard, and observed, is that Apple spends as much time focusing on the employee experience to deliver on its brand promise. The tribe believes in its own coolaid and the organisation spends a considerable amount of time filling the tank and by ensuring people are put in the right enviornment for them to be successful, which will, and clearly does, spill over to business success.

When Apple released its iPad2, apparently it included a comment in its advertisements that “we want to get technology out of the way” so that it can focus on the ensuring the customers needs are met. For me this statement highlights it’s maverick personality and why it has been able to transend and disrupt multiple sectors.

And from one cultish experience to another, Method, who states that it set out to create a Culture club filled with obsessions, not values. From the outset, Method knew it couldn’t compete with the multinationals on process and marketing spend, so it had to develop a business system that created advocates, which it did through its culture and personality.

I like Method because I admire companies, particularly FMCG companies that are able to take on “the man” with personality and a challenging attitude. Visiting them was a treat to see energy and fun combining to create a succesful business that is able to take the piss out of itself while taking a few beatings from the larger retailers. It really highlighted the potential and potency of a personality in business.

Method likes to get rid of the b.shit in business, for example, their is no receptionist and everyone has their turn of guarding the frout desk, and they encourage everyone to think like a designer; they have to look at all aspects of their business and life and seek out new ways of doing things. Driving it’s innovation is a mantra that “progress not perfection” is key to success which builds the expectation that everything is up for improvement. As with Apple, Method is relentless with its recruitment and “on boarding” (a new phrase for me) processes with the bible of obsessions which every new employee gets indoctrinated with.

A great morning finished off with an afternoon of reflection of the Academy of Science which was perfectly timed and paced.


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