There’s really only one key practice for quality: continuous improvement, and its dual, continuous learning. For continuous learning, many practices that help; one of my personal favorites is ‘Lunch and Learn.’ It’s easy to get started, allows the team to ‘opt in’ to shared practices, and is an amazing opportunity for growth.
There are many useful business strategies for companies, and many of these are executed successfully up to the point of a crisis, at which point the companies must re-invent themselves or die. It seems to me that most hardware vendors (RIM, Motorola, Scientific Atlanta) are caught in a ‘how do we race to the bottom on price and still preserve our margins?’.
This article (Steve Jobs Speaks Candidly About the State of Apple and Its Competitors.) suggests that Apple does it differently. There are many interesting points, but this one struck me as being especially important, both in illuminating Apple’s strategy, and in highlighting how real strategies must be explicit, not implicit, and sometimes reinventing the company strategy is the most critical thing that an executive can do.
“Because Apple looks at things from a software-driven standpoint first and then works to iterate and make the product better while keeping the price the same (or lowering the price), as it did with the iPod, the company doesn’t look at its line and make decisions based on features in order to lower the price, expecting the software to magically perform.”
In my opinion, Software requires real investment, process, and sustainability. As a software leader, I guide the software team to make our work a key feature of what the company is offering to the customer, not an afterthought. Apple clearly gets it. Microsoft gets it (finally?); see Windows 7.
RIM *could*, if they make the Blackberry a great platform for developers, and see their own software on it as being pivotal. RIM still has best-in-class email and instant messaging, and Outlook integration, but these advantages are starting to erode. There is still time for RIM to awaken, but the clock is ticking…