Here’s something you may not know: Steve Jobs and his team did not create the iPod or iPhone, products that made Apple one of the biggest companies in the world.

The company, which is now so successful that it’s twice the size of Exxon Mobil and has a market value of $775 billion, had hired help.

Jobs was smart enough to hire Tony Fadell in 2001. He invented the first iPod.

Prior to his tenure at Apple, Fadell had the brilliant idea to link an MP3 player with the Internet in 2000. For that, he needed capital. The company caught wind of his idea and called him to consult. He was hired shortly after that, and the first iPod came out in October.

This story emphasizes how we need diversity on our innovation teams and that we can find great ideas outside of our organizations that can be developed inside. It was only after Fadell arrived that Apple put together “the iPod team.”  The members  had similar developments and ideas for a massive shift in the music marketplace.

They became the best because of their internal experience and direction, coupled with Tony’s idea.

What can we learn from this story?

  • Innovation comes from a combination of diverse experiences. This different thinking can lead to great brainstorming sessions that break new ground.
  • Innovation can be enhanced by seeking outside expertise. Even if your internal team is very capable, speaking with an outside consultant can multiply the results.
  • Innovation can be improved by great leadership. Fadell had led multiple innovation teams at four different companies before Apple, giving him leadership skills.
  • Innovation is a learned experience. Fadell’s training and education are a good example of how to prepare to innovate.

The story doesn’t end here. Fadell retired from Apple in 2008 and started a new venture in 2009 you may have heard about. It’s called the “NEST Company.” It builds Internet-connected home thermostats and smoke detectors for residences. In 2011, NEST hit the market and has done so well that Google bought them in 2014 for $3.2 billion.

Note the similarities between the first MP3 internet devices and the current NEST Internet devices. This innovation lives on because the teamwork at Apple helped solidify Fadell’s innovation and change the way the world works.

Read more about Fadell and his inspirational story here.

Please let me know how it’s going. Email me and see more ideas on the Linkedin Fenestration Innovation Network.

1 Comment

  1. Great point Ray.

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