The Apple Way Management Lessons : 6. Keep Your Promises (Jeffrey L Cruikshank) by Yudha Argapratama

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In 1985, by ballyhooing Macintosh Office, Apple promised far more than it could deliver, and paid the price. Early in 2002, Apple took the unusual step of announcing—well in advance of MacWorld Tokyo, scheduled for March—that there would be no new computers introduced at the show.24 Better to give people the straight story, up front, than to let them feel that you’ve broken some sort of promise to them.

What other lessons in promise-keeping can be gleaned from this quick tour of widgets and warranties?

Here are eight:

Apple pays a higher price when it breaks its promises.

We like the story of the little engine that could. We don’t like to think that the little engine cut a corner, or lied to us, in getting up the mountain and down the other side.

A wild exaggeration can be the worst kind of broken promise.

People figure it out, and they make you pay for it.

Balance the visionary with the true.

Especially from a high-tech company, and especially from an innovative high-tech company, people expect a little embroidery at the margins of the vision. They just want the main story to be mainly true.

A defective product is a broken promise.

After you break this kind of promise, the only question is, can you fix it fast enough, and on fair enough terms, to make up for the damage to your relations and reputation?

The only thing worse than recalling that defective product is not recalling it.

The U.S. automakers have earned a reputation for being slow to recall. Sure, it’s expensive, and you don’t like to see the word “recall” in close proximity with the company or product name. But the alternative can be far worse. If the 5300—the HindenBook!—is going to catch fire, call it in!

Quality can turn around quickly—if you make it turn around quickly.

Of course, this is easier if you have a lapsed tradition of quality, as did Apple. It’s a little bit like coaxing a lawn back to life: Good roots make the job much easier.

Promise-keeping often involves getting good information, and using it wisely.

If you don’t have an ear to the ground, you’ll wind up sitting on high inventories (thereby annoying Wall Street) and stuffing your channels with unwanted product (thereby annoying your channels).

Falling in love with a high-tech company is likely to be a frustrating experience.

Most of the time, they can’t give you what you want. They break their promises.

Source : The Apple Way. 12 Management Lessons from the World’s Most Innovative Company. Jeffrey L. Cruikshank.McGraw-Hill. 2006

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