September 22, 2005

Be the next Apple

There's an article on RedHerring.com called McNealy: Sun Is the Next Apple that caught my attention. It's about a speech Scott McNealy the CEO of Sun Microsystems gave at an Oracle event saying his company was the next Apple. James Robertson on his Blog "Smalltalk Tibits, Industry Rants" commented about it in a posting called - Where's the cluestick?

From my point of view it's hard not to see that Sun's competitors have made bold strategic moves recently. Oracle acquired Siebel, Microsoft re-org'ed, and Google launched new to the world products. For its part the real Apple made a bet on Intel. While its yet to be seen if these are winning bets. I'm struggling to understand what Sun's bold strategy is other than
incrementalism.

Here is a handy checklist for companies working hard to be the next Apple:

  1. Have an product innovation strategy that invests in "new to the world" products and services;
  2. Kill all copycat product efforts;
  3. Allocate resources and people for "new to the world" projects;
  4. Gain and maintain a deep understanding of the needs of your customer/market.;
  5. Differentiate from your competitors by creating unique value for your customers;
  6. Open up two way real time dialog with your market;
  7. Communicate directly and in real time with your employees for new product ideas;
  8. Stay entrepreneurial by taking risks and foster risk taking by employees;
  9. Limit project teams to100 people;
  10. Always, always, always keep it fun.

It's been my experience that companies that follow rapidly become leaders in their field.

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