What drives successful companies?

Let’s look at the four outrageously successful companies and see what they can teach us.

1. Apple launched a product different to anything else: the iPhone. It was the first truly easy-to-use, web-enabled computer in your pocket. Using the iPhone was a totally different experience to using it’s closest competitor, the Motorola Razr.

iPhone 10 years on: The day in 2007 Steve Jobs introduced Apple's creation  to the world - Business Insider

2. Facebook developed killer features to overtake it’s main competitor, MySpace. In 2007, Facebook launched social games like Texas Hold’Em Poker, while MySpace launched MySpaceTV. In 2008 Facebook become the most popular social network.

3. Google succeeded by developing an algorithm for better search results. Google’s search did pretty much the same thing as other search engines (like Yahoo) already did, but Google’s results were more relevant.

4. Amazon realised that the web changed the rules of retail. Companies like Walmart optimised around limited shelf space, but the web made shelf space infinite. (Detail here).

What do these four examples tell us?

None of the successes were due to moving more quickly than the competition. The iPhone took 2.5 years to develop. Apple wasn’t any faster at developing phones than Motorola.

The key to success isn’t about going fast, it’s about going in the right direction. It’s about innovating.

In a world which is constantly changing, there is a constant stream of new opportunities and risks. Most companies fail to seize the big opportunities and avoid the big risks.

The secret

Apple realised that to take advantage of the shift from desktop to mobile, that the user interface needed to adapt.

Facebook evolved from a student directory into a social network, and then evolved further with games like Farmville.

Google‘s famous PageRank algorithm was adapted from an algorithm used to rank academic papers.

The secret is to adapt.

It is not the product with the most users that survives, not the one with most features that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

Charles Darwin

This post is an excerpt from an old version of this agile quiz.

Categorized as Agile

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