Tag Archives: Apple

Radical Candor Smashes into WSJ Best-Seller List

Kim Scott‘s new book, Radical Candor:  Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity (New York:  St. Martin’s Press, 2017) entered the Wall Street Journal business best-seller list at # 7 in the list published today (April 1-2, p. C10).

The book is # 1 on two Amazon.com sub-categories, and has also appeared on theRadicalCandorCover prestigious New York Times best-seller list.  As you are aware, we rely heavily on that list as the source for our selections to present at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

Here is how the book is described on Amazon.com:

“Radical Candor is a simple idea: to be a good boss, you have to Care Personally at the same time that you Challenge Directly. When you challenge without caring it’s obnoxious aggression; when you care without challenging it’s ruinous empathy. When you do neither it’s manipulative insincerity.

“This simple framework can help you build better relationships at work, and fulfill your three key responsibilities as a leader: creating a culture of feedback (praise and criticism), building a cohesive team, and achieving results you’re all proud of.

Radical Candor offers a guide to those bewildered or exhausted by management, written for bosses and those who manage bosses. Taken from years of the author’s experience, and distilled clearly giving actionable lessons to the reader; it shows managers how to be successful while retaining their humanity, finding meaning in their job, and creating an environment where people both love their work and their colleagues.”

KimScottPhotoYou may not be familiar with Kim Scott.  She was an executive at Google and then at Apple.  Kim is also the co-founder and CEO of Candor, Inc., which builds tools to make it easier to follow the advice she offers in the book. She is also the author of three novels.  Prior to founding Candor, Inc., Kim was a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and several other Silicon Valley companies. She was a member of the faculty at Apple University, developing the course “Managing at Apple,” and before that led AdSense, YouTube, and Doubleclick Online Sales and Operations at Google.  Previously, Kim was the co-founder and CEO of Juice Software, a collaboration start-up, and led business development at two other start-ups, Delta Three and Capital Thinking.  Earlier in her career, she worked as a senior policy advisor at the FCC, managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo, started a diamond cutting factory in Moscow, and was an analyst on the Soviet Companies Fund. Kim received her MBA from Harvard Business School and her BA from Princeton University. Kim and her husband Andy Scott are parents of twins and live in the San Francisco Bay Area.  (Adapted from her website:  http://www.kimmalonescott.com/biography/).

We have determined that we will feature this book for the May, 2017 book synopsis in Dallas.  Continue to monitor our website for information. 

Innovation + Communication – 2 Obvious Lessons From Apple’s Latest Big Event

Tim Cook at the June, 2012 WWDC

So, Apple had their newest big roll out yesterday.  (Watch the WWDC keynote here).  I am an Apple fan, but really only barely use my Apple devices (I have three; iMac, iPad, iPhone) to their capabilities.  But I loaded the Macrumors live blog of the event, glanced at it frequently, and followed along.  (And I kept looking for the announcement of the latest iMac, but, alas, it did not arrive.  My son assures me it is coming soon).

From the moment that Siri started it off, to the multiple announcements, the faithful seemed more than satisfied with the latest good news.  Here are two obvious lessons from yesterday’s event.  And, yes, they are obvious.  But the fact that they are obvious does not mean that other companies and organizations have figured out how to match Apple.

Lesson #1 – keep improving, keep tweaking, and keep innovating.  Make your really great products and services even greater.  Again and again.  From the devices to the software to the operating systems, what is insanely great about Apple now is better than what was insanely great about Apple a year ago, and we all know that by this time next year it will be even greater and better and cooler and “must have” all over again.  They give us great stuff now, and will keep on giving us greater stuff tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

Phil Schiller introduces the new MacBook, “the most beautiful computer we’ve ever made.”

I don’t even understand all of the ways they make it better.  But I know it revolves around the entire package, the full constellation of offerings and capabilities – design, speed, (“faster, faster, faster, faster” – this was one of the mantras from yesterday) power, look, resolution, “retina display.”  Apple just keeps making every part of Apple, everything that is Apple, and everything that works with Apple, better.

But most of us do not learn this lesson in our work.  It took me way too many years to realize that while I talked about and spoke about constant improvement, I practiced very little of it.  Here’s an example:  for the first 13+ years of the First Friday Book Synopsis, my handouts for my synopses looked exactly the same:  a plain, boring-looking, Word document, with no design appeal at all.  Not too smart of me!   I finally realized it was time (way past time) to make some changes on my handouts.  We found a great designer to raise the look of our handouts to a new level.  And I think they look terrific.  And now, I have to figure out “so what’s next?” to keep getting better.  And, all along, I have to ask “how can I do my work better?”  It really is never ending.

Tim Cook (then COO) at the side of the Master

Lesson #2 – Communicate very well to all of your intended audiences.  Call it what you want:  learn to market; learn to sell; learn to call attention to; learn to create anticipation.  Though the current crop of Apple messengers cannot match the brilliance of Steve Jobs, (who could?!), they have clearly learned some major lessons from the master.  And yesterday was a sold-out, live-blogged, extravaganza of a show.  With videos and slides and demonstrations and team-presentations and multiple awe-inspiring moments for the faithful, Apple still seems to be at the top of their game.

You can read all you want about the need for better hard skills.  And many who write about those hard skills tend to almost look down on the place of those soft skills.

That is a really big mistake!

Apple’s success revolves around these two realities; they make great products, and they sell them even better.  Yes, this was part of the brilliance of Steve Jobs.  But isn’t it interesting that no other company has come close to matching this aspect of Apple’s approach?  Apple gets this – why don’t the rest of us?

Let me put it simply and bluntly – if you do not know how to communicate what you do, what you have to offer, clearly and compellingly, with excitement and great passion, then your great product just may go undiscovered by a whole lot of folks.

Two lessons:

Lesson #1 – keep improving, keep tweaking, and keep innovating.

Lesson #2 – Communicate very well to all of your intended audiences.

How are you doing?

Losing the War of Talent, a Telling Leading Indicator – The Challenge for RIM (BlackBerry)

As in ancient times, talent has become the coin of the realm.  Companies that multiply their human talents will prosper.  Companies that don’t will struggle.
Talented People are scarce. 
Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, Beth Axelrod:  The War for Talent


So, here’s the problem.  People want to work with, and for, a winner.  People do not want to work for a loser.  And, people want to work for a winner more than they want to help revive a once-more-healthy company.

So, if you want to look at a most revealing leading indicator, look at this:  where do people want to work?  And the answer can be found in the simple observation of:  where do the best graduates of the most recent graduating class want to work?

With this question in mind, I think it is safe to say that RIM (BlackBerry) is in serious trouble.  It is no longer the place to work.  And when it is no longer the place to work, difficult days will only continue.  Because the best innovations, the best new products, the best process improvements, come from the best, most talented employees.  And the most talented employees frequently come from the best crop of “new talent.”

This is the conclusion affirmed in the article Tech talent turns away from RIM by Iain Marlow.  Here’s a key excerpt

…times have changed, and although this region is still rich with talent, many of the brightest no longer aspire to work at the company that helped put Waterloo on the global map (Research In Motion Ltd – maker of the BlackBerry). “It was definitely a really great place to have your first internship,” says Mr. Mir, now a 20-year-old intern at LinkedIn Corp. in Mountain View, Calif. “But you don’t see a lot of the strong students ending up wanting to go to RIM full time, which is sad.”
The talent, in other words, is following the customers, millions of whom have shunned the company’s once-dominant BlackBerry in favour of smartphones made by Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., and a host of other wireless-industry rivals.

The article is worth reading to see  an example of what a company can do to go “wrong.”  But the reality is that because of the successes of Apple (especially the iPhone’s success), LinkedIn, and other companies,coupled with the troubles at RIM, the best graduates now want to work for the Apples of the modern world, not RIM.  And where the talent goes, a better future is likely to be built.

Three Crucial Roles that Can Create Business Success (A Case Study about Apple from the NY Times)

{This is prompted by a terrific article, with many images that add insight, in the New York Times about Apple:  How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work by Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher.  Both Tyler Cowen and Paul Krugman have praised this article.  Cowen says it deserves one of the Sidney Awards from David Books:  “This is an excellent article, and perhaps it will win one of David Brooks’s Sidney Awards.”  Many others have written favorable reviews of the article.  In other words, it has been all over the place on the web!}

Though the article is being discussed regarding about Apple’s use of/dependence on work done in China, the article is an amazing Business Success 101 tour de force.

Here is what we learn, boiled own to a simple formula.  A company needs three roles filled very, very well to achieve success.  Here are those three roles:

#1 – The Role Of The “This Is What Needs To Be Done” Leader
#2 – The Role Of The “This Is How We Are Going To Get That Done” Make-It-Happen Overseer
#3 – The Role Of The “I/We Will Get That Done For You” Worker(S)

In the article, Steve Jobs, of course, filled the role of #1 – The Role Of The “This Is What Needs To Be Done” Leader.  Here’s the key excerpt:

In 2007, a little over a month before the iPhone was scheduled to appear in stores, Mr. Jobs beckoned a handful of lieutenants into an office. For weeks, he had been carrying a prototype of the device in his pocket.
Mr. Jobs angrily held up his iPhone, angling it so everyone could see the dozens of tiny scratches marring its plastic screen, according to someone who attended the meeting. He then pulled his keys from his jeans.
People will carry this phone in their pocket, he said. People also carry their keys in their pocket. “I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” he said tensely. The only solution was using unscratchable glass instead. “I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.”

And then, the role of the #2 – The Role Of The “This Is How We Are Going To Get That Done” Make-It-Happen Overseer (“overseer” is the word I propose) was played by a “get to it to get-it-done” executive:

After one executive left that meeting, he booked a flight to Shenzhen, China. If Mr. Jobs wanted perfect, there was nowhere else to go.

A production line in Foxconn City in Shenzhen, China. The iPhone is assembled in this vast facility, which has 230,000 employees, many at the plant up to 12 hours a day, six days a week. (Thomas Lee/Bloomberg News)

And then ultimately the role of the #3 – The Role Of The “I/We Will Get That Done For You” Worker(S) was filled by Foxconn at Foxconn City in China.  The article is worth reading just to see how amazing their scheduling capabilities are at this company.

These three roles provide the essence of business success.. You have to know what to do; you have to have someone (know how to) make that happen; and then you have to have workers actually fulfill the “make it happen” role.

Call it what you want:  vision; planning; execution.  But this article in the New York Times is a great case study of just how to succeed in business.  These three roles have to be filled — and filled well!

(I’ll leave the discussion about sending some of the jobs overseas for others to discuss.  And, yes, there are some pretty serious issues to discuss about worker conditions.  But such discussion does not change the need for these three roles to be filled – and filled well).

The Show-Stopper for the Kindle, Nook, and iPad

An increasing number of consumers now download and read books on electronic devices, such as the popular Kindle by Amazon, the Nook from Barnes and Noble, or the iPad from Apple.

As you survey my blog posts, I have long been an opponent of these devices.  I have previously argued why traditional books should be the way to go.  I will not repeat those arguments here – they are readily available in our archives.

I think the “show-stopper” will be the investigation and results that come from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of the Federal Government.  This watchdog association is notorious for its detailed and long-lasting impact on products that put consumers at risk.

My prediction is that tests will continue to reveal a negative impact on consumer exposure to these devices.  An increasing number of reports available on the internet now reveal questions about the effects from reading text with these devices, including eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, and short and long-term vision loss. 

To be fair, there are also a number of reports that call these claims “silly,” and there are also available posts that show consumers how to adjust the backlight and contrast in order to make the exposure more suitable for the individual.

All of this is fine, but the reports have brought enough attention where we will see serious, not anecdotal investigations into the effect of these products.   You can regularly see recalls of products that the CPSC has deemed unsafe.  Their decisions have brought dozens of manufactured products to their knees.

Will the CPSC be bold enough to go forward to apply the standards for safety that they have long used to these electronic devices for reading?  What will the scientific investigations reveal?  And, regardless of the findings, will enough consumers be scared, and return to the purchase of traditional books?  I believe that this will happen.  One credible report, with one major recall, that is announced with enough publicity, will be enough to significantly debilitate consumer acceptance of these devices.

In the meantime, what is your own tolerance level for risk?  Reports from both sides are available on the internet.  Who and what do you want to believe? 

Let’s talk about it really soon!

Constant Innovation – Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and the Path to Dominance

Constant innovation.  That is the unending mantra.  Constant innovation.

Quick – which two modern companies jump to mind when you hear that phrase?  Apple & Facebook.  They both ooze constant innovation.

And they are both run by people who are incredibly powerful/influential within their companies.  What they want, they get!  If Steve Jobs wants something in Apple, it happens. If Mark Zuckerberg wants something in Facebook, he gets it.

On the Daily Beast, How Zuckerberg Changed the World by David Kirkpatrick lists ten reasons why Zuckerberg deserves the Time Person of the Year Award.  The article is headed by a one word banner:  INNOVATION.  Here are two of the ten reasons.  They both speak to this constant innovation mantra.

Reason #5:
Zuckerberg, as CEO, has always had absolute and total control over the evolution of this stunningly successful operation. He controls three of five board seats, and thus cannot be dislodged or overruled. Facebook really is a reflection of his will and his vision.

Reason # 10:
Zuckerberg pushes Facebook to continually change and improve its product, and that has kept it growing and relevant. In April, the company dramatically extended its platform. In August, it created a new location-based service called “Facebook Places” which enables users to tell friends and businesses where they are. In November, it announced a radical new form of messaging which many experts believe will replace email for hundreds of millions. In addition, throughout the year it grew its “Facebook credits” product to become the primary way people spend money in games on the service. Credits could become a sort of global money inside the walls of Facebook. And a landmark Skype partnership announced in October could make the process of making a voice or video call dramatically easier—who needs to remember numbers when you will be able to just click on a name in your Facebook friend list?

Constantly make things better – constantly innovate.  Have enough power to make it happen.  This is the path to follow in this very modern, constantly changing era.