The Advancing Leadership Blog

How Would Apple Run Your Business?

Glenn Mangurian writes a monthly piece called Pushing the Edge, similar to LogiStyle’s Food for Thought articles. This article is prompted by his provocative issue last month, titled “What if Apple bought General Motors?”. Needless to say, credit for this entire piece goes to Glenn Mangurian.

Apple has created a distinguished brand, reflected not only in its products but also in its stores. Their brand has a loyal following within its customer base. Just last week, Apple announced it had nearly doubled its earnings last quarter (see NYT article here). Instead of asking why Apple is so greedy for profits or why they don’t sell their products more cheaply, the people who would otherwise line up to protest the corporate greed of Exxon-Mobile, WalMart, or Goldman Sachs are lining up around the block to buy the next version of Apple’s iPhone or iPad! WalMart is taken to task for its labor practices. Even a venerable brand like Nike is pressured to address the working conditions in its offshore manufacturing plants. Yet Apple, faced with similar questions, goes almost scot free. Why?

Apple’s brand has been established through the careful control of everything they do, not just the products they release: how they choose and interact with vendors, how and when they communicate with customers, what they expect of employees. In other words, they do it by carefully managing their culture. Imagine if Apple were to get into the automobile business – which they might. You probably have a pretty good feel for what an iCAR might be like.

Let’s take that thought to the next level – to consumer products beyond the electronics domain. If Apple were to run Proctor & Gamble or Campbell Soup, how would those companies change? Not just the products, but the companies themselves. What if you went beyond consumer product companies? How about an elevator company? How would Apple run on Otis or Kone? What if Apple bought one of the many struggling airlines? How would the service and product of iAir be significantly different?

In the same vein, how would Apple run your company? It doesn’t matter if you offer goods or services, to consumers or businesses. Whatever you do, Apple would probably do it a bit differently – not necessarily better, but differently. The thought experiment of how Apple would run your company opens up your imagination. This thought provoking experiment is interesting and provocative because Apple has a very clear brand and culture, and we’re all familiar with the Apple brand. You could also ask this question of any company for which you have passion, and whose brand you clearly understand.

So, ask that of your own company – for which you have all the passion and whose brand you clearly understand. What if you bought one of your competitors or vertically integrated with somebody in your food chain? How would you run that company differently from how it is being run today? How would your brand cause that company to act and behave differently? Conversely, what if one of your competitors or a partner in your food chain bought your company? How would they run it differently?

Take any one of the many questions asked above. Ask each member of your executive team to come prepared with vivid imagery of how it might be run and have a discussion with your team to get all of them to think beyond where they might have otherwise gone. This is what Glenn Mangurian calls Pushing the Edge.

Dr. Balaji Krishnamurthy – LogiStyle, LLC. – has been recognized by TIME, CNN, Wall Street Journal and other national publications for his unique and innovative style of corporate leadership. TIME magazine included him in their list of 25 Global Business Influentials for his influence on corporate leadership. He is the Founder of LogiStyle LLC, and can be reached at balaji@logistyle.com or (503) 789-1338. For the interested reader, more of Dr. Krishnamurthy’s Food for Thought mailings can be viewed at LogiStyle: Food for Thought Archive.

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