I don't think anyone would dispute Apple's ability, under the leadership of Steve Jobs, to deliver a superior customer experience that has been of enormous value and wealth.  Well some may, but they may very well be on a different planet, or a different platform, at least.

But the raging debate and intense speculation is about Job's roll in achieving such an incredible juggernaut of customer value and loyalty.  For, if he was THE source, then sooner or later the enterprise will run out of this rarified inspirational gas and lose, the employee's, customer's and investors loyalties.  Those who believe in Job's magical and mystical powers to somehow divine the tech market's entrails, will see this as the end of a great era and dynasty.

On the other hand if, as one commentator puts it - Apple is "infected with the Steve Job's virus" then this ship will be sailing high on the seas of customer value for a long time.  My hope, is in the latter state for Apple.  But even if this is not the case, Apple's roadmap (under Job's direction) is probably in good shape to deliver great value for a least a few more years.

It begs the question how does Apple consistently deliver such a great customer experience at so many levels?

If I was to point to one thing, I would point to their culture.  According to Mac Observer writer Chuck La Tournous: "Apple understands the importance of creating a culture that has this DNA. It may not use focus groups, but it does pay a lot of attention to how decisions are made and how culture is infused into its employees. They’ve even reportedly devoted a significant effort to studying—and documenting—the process."

Culture infused into its employees - this is the only way to sustain value beyond one great leader.  Culture is what takes a group of individuals and knits them together into a society that operates with a singular mission and focus.  And, if that culture is based upon a passionate commitment to delivering superior customer value it becomes not only a glue but an engine that drives the company to even greater value regardless of any one single individual in the organization.

In fact, I believe, if the entire organization is not behind delivering this kind of customer value, it's virtually impossible to achieve with the kind of consistency that Apple has attained.  One author refers to this as institutionalizing the delivery of value to the intended customer.  Teaching the organization to focus on the end result (customer experience), not the means to this result (products and services.)

That will be the most important legacy of Steve Job's, way beyond the beautifully designed and delivered technology of today to the organization (organism?) who's culture is designed to deliver a consistently superior customer experience.
 


Comments

08/31/2011 05:11

John,
I like how you concluded this post on "institutionalizing the delivery of value to the intended customer." I think an understanding of the "intended customer's" problems - walking a mile, if not two, in their shoes is, being able to feel their pain and articulate their problems is the first step to starting a business. Additionally, understanding and sympathizing with the intended customer and innovating problem solving must be woven into any technology company's culture for long term profitability.

Everett

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    John Geffel

    Value is a much abused, misunderstood and misused word, everyone thinks they provide it but so few show real evidence that they do!
     

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