So, yes. I’m that tech geek who, like many of you, gets excited every time he gets a new device.
My latest piece of digital happiness was the new iPhone X (256 GB, Space Grey and pronounced “ten” by the way. I thought it was pronounced X at first too).
Technology can teach you something. But how tech companies handle themselves during a launch can teach us all something about leadership too, whether you love tech or not.
Here are five things the new iPhone X can teach you about leadership, wherever you lead and whatever you lead.
1. You Don’t Have to Be First
It’s easy to think that first to market wins every time.
Sure, Android users had a field day mocking the iPhone X as a ‘new’ phone that introduced features Android phones had years earlier, like facial recognition, no home button and more.
And yet, as some reviewers have pointed out, Apple’s features have turned out to be in many respects superior to earlier Android attempts. (Apparently, Samsung’s facial recognition can be hacked by using a photo.)
Other manufacturers are reportedly now trying to catch up to the far more secure Face ID system Apple introduced with the X.
I’m amazed that the Facel ID feature on my iPhone X works in almost complete darkness, at various angles, with or without my glasses on. Apparently, you can even grow a beard and it would still recognize you as you because it uses 30,000 IR sensors to detect you. A little creepy, but it works. And soon, everyone will have them, so there’s that too.
Being first doesn’t give you nearly the advantage that being good does.
Years ago Apple was mocked when it introduced the iPad because so many others had tried to launch tablets and failed. But launching a good product that actually worked changed the game, not just for Apple, but for every tablet maker. They went from being fringe products to still shipping 32 million units globally this year.
Whatever idea you’re working on, don’t worry about being first nearly as much as you worry about being good.
You may not be the first to do a sermon series, the first to launch a podcast, the first to change your social media strategy, the first to introduce new guest services idea.
Just be good. Good has a way of finding its way through the pack.
2. Revolution and Evolution Go Hand in Hand
Apple is prone to talking about how ‘revolutionary’ its new products are, and the X had its share of hyperbole (you can read the claims here).
To be honest with you, the X wasn’t quite as ‘different’ as I thought it might be, even though:
-Face ID replaced Touch ID (thumbprint)
-There’s no home button
-Swipe up is the new master command
-The control center moved to the top right (swipe down)
-It features Animoji’s and AR (augmented reality)
-It features Apple’s first edge to edge OLED screen.
-Plus it’s faster…much faster.
It felt to me like more evolution than revolution from my iPhone 7 Plus.
Until I used my wife’s iPhone 7 recently to find an article. Then I felt like I was going back to the stone age (also known as September).
It’s funny how evolutionary changes can revolutionize an experience.
Constant improvement is one sure way to beat irrelevance.
That series of tweaks and changes you’re considering? Do them. They may seem evolutionary, not revolutionary, to you. Which is fine.
Over time, evolutionary change fosters revolutionary improvements.
3. Speed Matters
I mentioned speed. Does it really matter?
Well, the home button is gone, which you think wouldn’t be a big deal, but it is.
The X recognizes you almost instantly with Face ID and then it’s just a quick swipe up to open the phone. It’s pretty much instantaneous.
Again, you don’t notice it until you go back to a Touch ID 7 and then opening the device feels like an eternity.
I realize I’m talking seconds or milliseconds, but we’re moving into a culture where people hate waiting even more than they used to.
If you have lines for children’s check-in or lines to get into a service (which many churches do), making those lines move as quickly as possible can be a huge benefit.
Chick-Fil-A does a great job of having an employee come to your car window to take your order before you arrive at the drive-thru window.
The idea is the more you can do to speed someone’s wait time, the less distracted, irritated and upset your people will be.
4. Price Isn’t the Sole Motivator
Is the iPhone X expensive? Yes. Definitely.
But that hasn’t stopped people from buying it.
If you’re going to compete, don’t compete on price. Compete on value.
I’m quite certain that one of the reasons Android marketshare has grown so much in the last few years is because of price. There are a ton of $0 and $99 Android phones on the market.
Two lessons on pricing. First, while Samsung and Apple are virtually tied for marketshare, Apple has cornered as much as 83 percent of smartphone profits, while Samsung lags far behind at 13 percent. Just because your product is used doesn’t mean you’ll be profitable.
Second—and more significantly—people will pay for quality.
So many organizations compete on price. But Apple has taken a different route. It knows users will pay for value—or at least what they perceive as value.
In light of its almost obscene cash reserves, I wish Apple would drop the price of its products somewhat. But the truth is, I still buy them because they just work. They’re a beautifully interfaced eco-system that delivers day in and day out. And when they don’t, Apple takes care of it.
But I was tired of paying with my time for bad devices, crashed systems and constant failure before I switched a decade ago.
Cheap has a cost. In fact, in the long run, it’s often more expensive.
5. Underpromise. Overdeliver.
I was one of those people who set an alarm in the middle of the night to order my phone at midnight Cupertino time on release day.
Apple promised me a delivery date of November 20-27. I could live with that. I’m Canadian, so I’m used to settling for later when it comes to delivery.
Needless to say, I was thrilled when the courier showed up with my phone on November 13—a full week early.
Whatever you do, underpromising and overdelivering is the gold standard of customer joy.
Apple does this by always delivering earlier than it promised. Disney does this by posting wait time in its ride lines that are longer than they actually are, knowing that a customer who was told it was a 45 minute wait time but who got in after 30 minutes will be thrilled, while a customer who was told it was a 30 minute wait time who got in after 45 minutes will be frustrated.
The vast majority of people over promise and under deliver.
If you want to succeed, do the opposite.
What Do You See?
Got the new phone? Watched the launch?
What did you see that helped give you insight into leadership?
This article originally appeared here.