Apple and the art of innovation


It's time to prepare yourself for a deluge of Apple innovation articles over the next two weeks, timed to coincide with the launch of the Apple iPhone. According to The Economist, Apple has four important lessons to teach other companies. First and most importantly, companies need to dispense with the "not invented here" mentality:

"The first [lesson] is that innovation can come from without as well as\nwithin. Apple is widely assumed to be an innovator in the tradition of\nThomas Edison or Bell Laboratories, locking its engineers away to cook\nup new ideas and basing products on their moments of inspiration. In\nfact, its real skill lies in stitching together its own ideas with\ntechnologies from outside and then wrapping the results in elegant\nsoftware and stylish design. The idea for the iPod, for example, was\noriginally dreamt up by a consultant whom Apple hired to run the\nproject. It was assembled by combining off-the-shelf parts with\nin-house ingredients such as its distinctive, easily used system of\ncontrols. And it was designed to work closely with Apple's iTunes\njukebox software, which was also bought in and then overhauled and\nimproved. Apple is, in short, an orchestrator and integrator of\ntechnologies, unafraid to bring in ideas from outside but always adding\nits own twists.


This approach, known as "network innovation", is not limited to\nelectronics. It has also been embraced by companies such as Procter\n& Gamble, BT and several drugs giants,\nall of which have realised the power of admitting that not all good\nideas start at home. Making network innovation work involves\ncultivating contacts with start-ups and academic researchers,\nconstantly scouting for new ideas and ensuring that engineers do not\nfall prey to "not invented here" syndrome, which always values in-house\nideas over those from outside."


[image: The Economist]

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