August 31, 2022 – 2 pm
When Steve Jobs died in 2011, everyone worried about the survival of Apple, a company that at the time was worth $300 billion. Not only has the company overcome the loss of its founder, it is now worth $3 trillion. Not so long ago, product evolution was driven by superstar professionals, a super marketing director, a super executive. But that has changed.
Today, except for those who are in the area or follow technology, few people know who took the place of Bill Gates, to give another example. Gates has gone out of business, Microsoft has grown and is worth ten times what he was with the company. The company’s market value when its founder stepped down as CEO in 2008 was $200 billion. Microsoft, currently run by Satya Nadella, is valued at $2 trillion.
The superhero left, but the mindset, the company culture remained. The same happened with Apple. In other words, the most important thing is the legacy left by these great leaders.
The most successful companies are those that are able to experiment the most. Today, it is more important to hire a team that can quickly test several hypotheses, than a single superstar professional. If you still have doubts that this is the best way, just look around. Companies function as teams in a team sport and not as an athlete in an individual sport. In a great football team, like Paris Saint-Germain, a Messi, who has already been elected as the best player in the world 7 times, cannot play alone. To succeed, he needs 10 more athletes, including Neymar and Mbappé, as well as other great players.
That’s not to say a company can’t have its superstar; he doesn’t need to leave the scene. What changes is the relationship of dependence, which ceases to exist. He can, for example, become a mentor who can and should be consulted to share his experience, give his opinion, guide.
The imperfect is desirable
In the new management model, not only is a huge weight off the back of a single executive, but that almost utopian perfection gives way to experimentation conducted by a team of professionals. With this, leaders will have the challenge of deconstructing beliefs such as that one cannot make mistakes. The error can no longer be seen as a problem; on the contrary, it needs to be seen as an opportunity to improve your product or service.
If you only release a product when it’s perfect, you may be taking a risk. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, has a well-known saying that goes “if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve released it too late.”
This is acceptable nowadays, because who will say if the product is good or bad is no longer the internal people of the company, the product team, or marketing, much less the executives. The user himself is the one who will evaluate. The reality is that users are, without a doubt, the best source of feedback your product can have. And the more feedback and the faster the company generates improvement insights and reacts, the more competitive it will be.
Agile communication is key
I already talked about the importance of becoming an agile company in another article published right here in Meio&Mensagem. It is a topic that still needs to be discussed, because the survival of the business from now on will depend on this understanding.
Tests will simply die on the beach if they don’t have quick feedback capable of providing more information throughout the customer journey. And that journey is long. You have experience with the customer before the sale so they know you exist; during the sales process, if you spoke with the seller or if the contact with the company was made through the website. You have contact with the customer when he is exploring your product, when he pays and also if he ends the contract some time later.
There are several opportunities and tools to gather feedback directly from users. The WhatsApp messaging application, for example, is used daily on 99% of Brazilian smartphones. Important tools are available in the market to communicate with your audience, in a non-invasive way, either by automated messages or by human agents, in order to ensure that we are always looking to improve the experience throughout the customer journey.
Speed and constant evolution
It is already known that whoever experiences the most will always be ahead. But that requires speed and strategy. Some of the most valuable companies in the world, like Apple and Amazon, organize their thousands of employees into small, multidisciplinary teams. Each team works autonomously; has a clear goal or challenge and a well-defined success metric. As if they were several startups within a single company. This allows these companies to have a lot of speed, experiment more and constantly evolve — and always ahead of their competitors.
A company with this culture in place does not need the leader to be a superstar. I wouldn’t even need a leader. In fact, self-management teams have already become a much discussed topic in modern companies.
By the way, the current Apple CEO who replaced Steve Jobs in August 2011 is the discreet Tim Cook