Mark McDonald

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mark P. McDonald
GVP EXP
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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A personal and open letter to Apple

by Mark P. McDonald  |  April 26, 2012  |  3 Comments

Note: this is a personal post.  It reflects my personal views, not the views of my company or the site.  It is not research or analysis of the company.

Dear Apple:

Congratulations on an outstanding quarterly performance.  Apple’s success over the past ten years has been built on a foundation of creating insanely great products and innovative ways of getting them to market.  That success has been rewarded with sales, profits, stock price appreciation and media attention.  To say that the company is at the pinnacle of media, speculative and customer attention is an understatement, so congratulations.

Now I would like to ask you  to ignore it all.  Ignore the past success in order to keep your attention squarely focused on the future, the next great products and innovations.

Forget the market capitalization, the impact on the stock market, the share price, the investors, the competition, etc.  If you start to think about driving the market, it will drive you in all the wrong directions.

Forget it all, because keeping them in mind was not what got you to where you are today and more importantly it will not keep you and your customers where they need to be in the future.  Reflecting on your current dominance only creates deadweight in the way you think, the risks you take, and the innovations you will tolerate.

It will be hard to block success from your mind.  But remember that just this type of success has taken down many a great company who started to believe what everyone said about them.  Who thought that they had a higher calling than just their customers ?  What is good for Apple may be good, but not for everyone and not all the time.

As soon as you let today impinge on tomorrow you start driving by looking in the rear view mirror – a definite recipe for seeking future success by replicating the past.  In sports its known as the Sports Illustrated cover curse.  Getting on the cover is a sure sign that you are at the peak.

You can build on your success.  That is something we all want and expect.  But the future is not an extension of the past; so much as it is a desire to think differently in the present and ignore the crowd.

Congratulations on a great quarter, remember that past performance is no guarantee of future success, and more likely an anchor that can hold you back rather than provide a foundation for the future.

 

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