Lessons From Apple: Schedule-driven release produces half-baked products and kills innovation

In the October 29 post by Om Malik, From inside Apple, the Scott Forstall fallout at Gigaom.com,Om shares:

“Unlike in the Jobs era, when the company would ship features when they were ready for primetime, a culture of schedule-driven releases has become commonplace.

The time-based schedule is one of the reasons why Siri and Maps arrived as half-baked products and were met with derision. Many engineers inside Apple could foresee problems with Maps. Why? Because Maps were driven by a time schedule.

Maps and Siri are complex products whose dependencies (for the lack of a better word) go deep into different parts of the phone and even the network. The schedule-driven release culture makes folks less daring — why take arrows in your back for failing to deliver a radical new feature on a pre-dictated time?”

In The Customer Experience Revolution, Larry Tesler, discusses what it was like working directly with Steve Jobs when Tesler was Vice President and Chief Scientist at Apple Computer: “You could show him that X was a better design than Y and despite all of the issues that people would come back to you with about schedules and engineering limitations and prices and whatever, he would just cut through it and make a decision, taking into account the users’ experience more than anything. Whether it was positioning in the marketing message, or customer service and support, or upgrades and repairs, Steve Jobs usually said, ‘delay the product so you can fix it.’” Jobs was not afraid to delay a product launch date at Apple to ensure that the customer experience was right.

I hope Apple learns from this lesson. And I hope other companies learn, too.