To Be Profitable: Focus On The Customer, Not Profits.

(updated below) I finally had the chance to watch the Steve Jobs presentation on the iPhone 4 antennae issue. You can watch it here. I was impressed by this statement in Job's opening remarks:

We want to make ... all our users happy.  If you don't know that about Apple, you don't know Apple. We love making our users happy. That's what drives us to make these products in the first place.

Look, everyone has an opinion about Apple. And I have no special insight into how things actually work inside the organization. But it's fair to say that Apple's customers tend to be a very happy and devoted bunch. And its huge profits are clearly the result of staying customer-driven, by consistently turning out products people want.

As a result of focusing on the customer, rather than directly on profits, they're very profitable. Students of Lean will understand that this is not, in fact, a paradox. For long-term success in Apple's particular market, "Customer Focus" cannot be just an empty marketing slogan.

Stephen Covey alludes to this in Principle Centered Leadership. Businesses focused on profits will, in the long term, cease to be profitable. Businesses focused on higher principles - the reason they're in business in the first place -- will thrive. Apple seems to be a good example of this in practice.

Bonus Steve Jobs: To follow up on an earlier post about creative problem solving, I noticed when he said: "We want to find out what the real problem is before we start to come up with solutions."

Update:  Is buying Apple a mythical experience?  See this interesting post from Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic.  (via Kottke)

(Photo credit: Apple Store)