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Apple Turnover

Optimize Blog - September 26, 2013 - 0 comments

We were inspired by a story coming out of Alaska to write a blog about the importance of changing course when it becomes obvious that the route you have set yourself upon is going to get you into trouble.
Fairbanks International airport has recently become aware of a flaw in the Apple Maps app that appears to direct motorists onto an airport taxi-way and even onto one of the runways! As a result the airport has had to close the aircraft access route until the issue is fixed and barricades have been erected to prevent any other drivers attempting to use the route. To be fair, Apple’s App tells drivers to use the airplane taxi-way but does not direct them to the runway – that we shall classify as ‘user error’……
Drivers using their Apple iPhones had to pass many warning signs, lights and painted markings advising them of the danger and the fact that they shouldn’t be there and yet they chose to blindly trust their device. The runway the motorists crossed is used by 737 jets among other aircraft. Ironically Google Maps provides a different route and one which does not require the driver to be concerned with low flying or taxiing aircraft – Apple faced much criticism after it dropped Google Maps as its default provider last year. Apple has taken over several other mapping software developers recently including Embark, Locationary and Hopstop but clearly there are still some flaws.
As with our errant motorists, we often find clients that doggedly follow a strategic direction despite plenty of warning signs giving ample notice that the direction is not going to deliver success. This is usually due to the fact that the strategy process is overly formulaic, the strategy is supporting the collective executive ego, there is not enough governance around the strategy process to monitor trends and conditions or the company is so wrapped up in execution it neglects to look ‘outside the window’ to see what is happening in the environment.
Former Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes now famous quote “I’ve been frankly confused by this fascination that everybody has with Netflix … Netflix doesn’t really have or do anything that we can’t or don’t already do ourselves” provides insight into an example of not fully understanding what strategy actually means and requires. Equally recent research shows that in every single business failure in the last few decades, the Board was the last to know demonstrating the fact that Boards are too often not engaged enough with strategy or are not holding the CEO and executive team accountable for the robustness of their strategy framework and process.
There is always a balance between the ruthless and relentless pursuit of delivering a winning strategy and the requirement to constantly check that the strategy is still relevant and valid. As leaders this balance has to be achieved – there isn’t a choice in the matter and so if your overall approach is inwardly focused, wearing blinkers will inevitably catch you out.
Following a direction slavishly despite warning signs advising you of impending danger will inevitably lead to the organization becoming lost at best and destroyed at worst. Luckily for our iPhone reliant motorists in Alaska, no injuries have been reported……..

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