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The Perils of Best Practice: Should You Emulate Apple?

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but if imitating Apple were enough to grow your organization into a smash success, everybody would be doing it. Even when following a business model that has been proven to work for a company as esteemed as Apple, it does not necessarily mean the same model will work for your company. With a brief registration, you can read about how Marla M. Capozzi dives into Apple’s methods to see whether or not what they do could really be considered best practices for your organization.

In order to measure the value of Apple’s practices, Capozzi breaks down the company’s sources of growth into three categories. The first is to compete in the right markets and harness their momentum to expand sales of current products and services. The second uses mergers and acquisitions to basically “purchase” growth. The third is that companies can grow organically, through market share gains from existing or new products and services.

Contrary to hundreds of other companies, Apple has grown almost entirely through share gains. From 1999 to 2008, Apple was the only company that created new markets repeatedly from disruptive innovation, which is a sort of innovation that creates completely new products, services, or business models in existing industries. Their ability to grow through market creation was six times higher than the second and third-ranked companies in the database of top companies Capozzi used.

She references these numbers not just to show how terrific Apple is but to highlight just how exceptional and abnormal their practices are. While many useful insights may be gathered from their methods, taking them wholesale and trying to transplant them into your organization will likely end badly.  Instead, Capozzi recommends:

An alternative to the headlong pursuit of disruptive innovation is what we call an “innovation at scale” strategy: repeatable and sustainable organic growth across the organization from new products and services—growth that builds on the foundation of a company’s core business. Analysis of more than 300 companies indicates that from 1999 to 2007, companies that showed positive organic share gains, year over year, for 70 percent or more of that time frame were, on average, twice as likely as other companies in their sector to outperform competitors as measured by total returns to shareholders. Companies that innovated at scale successfully at least 50 percent of the time were also more likely to outperform, but to a lesser degree.
Even the above strategy offers its challenges, but it is still more likely to help your company to succeed than to go stalking down the same wild trail left by Apple. Feel free to imitate the spirit and enthusiasm of Apple, but if you try to directly dress your company in the business practices that made them successful, your company might end up wearing a clown costume instead of a business suit.

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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