In every business, anywhere in the world, one element of success is the ability to continuously evolve to meet customers needs and wants. Once in a while we see companies who not only deliver what the market wants but also create demand for products or services that are new and a great example of this over the past three decades has been Apple.
As a university student I remember doing a work placement and using an Apple Macintosh M0001A computer as a word processor. Now I realise that ages me, but even at that time, Apple were seen as the latest personal computers. Jump forward 30 plus years and the latest Apple computers, the iMac or ibook are again at the forefront of personal computing. Not only that, but Apple has long been seen as the leaders in the mobile phone market as well, but, is that all about to change.
Over the past two years Apple has been dogged by lower sales resulting from changes in the market and challenges from its competitors in both the PC and mobile markets, with other manufacturers releasing new designs and technology to challenge the Apple dominance.
Now they have announced that Sir John Ivy, one of their chief designers over the past 30 years is leaving, see the BBC News. Sir John was instrumental in Apple’s success and is behind many of its iconic products such as the iMac and iphone.
However, in my view their designs have stalled over the past few years and my question is “should Sir John have moved on sooner?” Quite often in design-based businesses they need fresh ideas and new minds to look at ideas and if one person or one team-work for too long on a project their ideas become stale. Looking at the iPhone or iMac, their designs over the past five years have not moved forward and whilst the technology has evolved a bit, their competitors have made huge jumps in both design and technology.
My view, had Sir John left five years ago, not only would he have made a fortune advising other businesses and Apple would have recruited another design team that would have given them a fresh direction and possibly may have avoided the lower sales they are now seeing.
For any other business the lesson is clear, when you are looking at your creative delivery, be this your brand, collateral design, product development or internal communications, always look to refresh the team that does the work, look to change your creative agency periodically or at least ensure they change the creative team.