Great Organizations Remove BarriersJanuary 19, 2005
Every successful organization searches relentlessly for what is standing in the way of its customers. If you want your product to be used or purchased, you must discover what is preventing your customers from doing so and remove those barriers.
Apple is easily the best current example of this. Over the past two years, the company has completely altered its methodology, which had relied primarily on the exclusivity of its products, to focus on pleasing the consumer. Last week's keynote was the final, triumphant step in this transformation.
Barrier > Aging operating system without broad appeal, lacking support for open standards, and difficult to integrate with other networks and systems.
Solution > Build Unix-based OS with support for most open standards.
Barrier > Little public knowledge of Apple products and poor sales experience.
Solution > Build over 100 Apple Stores in prominent cities and locations throughout the world, where the full customer experience is completely controlled.
Barrier > PC users unable to take advantage of the iPod and iTunes Music Store.
Solution > Build a PC-version of iTunes, opening the iPod to the majority of computer users and leading to a dominant market share.
Barrier > The iPod is too expensive, with the cheapest model at $249.
Solution > Build the iPod Shuffle, available for only $99.
Barrier > The iMac is too expensive and requires you to purchase a display you may not need.
Solution > Build the Mac Mini, available for only $499.
Apple has removed nearly every barrier or objection a person could offer. They have come to the conclusion as an organization that they are not satisfied with selling to existing customers.
These decisions have had an enormous impact on the image of the company, which is no longer viewed as an exclusive club (complete with t-shirts that read It's an Apple thing...you wouldn't understand), but as a responsive, inviting company offering tools to enhance your life.
Well done, Apple. There are other organizations that come to mind, but what about the church? That is the topic of my next post.