3 Lesson's from Apple's Map Problem


"Arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected. "  Proverbs 29:23

I'm officially avoiding upgrading my iPhone's software.

Actually, I'm ALWAYS slow with my upgrades. so this doesn't feel like a huge sacrifice.  What I DO feel, however, is unnaturally attached to the Google maps app. I'm enjoying the map's clarity, my saved locations, and the predictability that the directions will be accurate.

This sudden appreciation developed since I spent an inordinate amount of time last week talking to people who had made the upgrade and were undone by the new Apple Maps.

Sure, this is a first world problem.   Still, there's a host of lessons that apply to anyone's business, but three in particular stand out to me.

1.  Arrogance is dangerous.

Apple's golden touch is amazing, but success has a funny way of making you feel invincible.  Apple's no more invincible than Microsoft was in the 80's.  Just because Apple has great marketing doesn't mean it can bill a new map as an "upgrade" and fool consumers into believing they have "the most powerful mapping service ever."  People are smarter than that.

Are there things in your business where you're tempted to believe you have something "nailed"? Do you ever find your confidence off the chart? If so, make sure you have someone around you who is ornery enough to call you out on your flaws.  Better to have a friend correct you in private before making a fool of yourself in front of half the world!

Lesson - Practice Humility

2. Negotiated "wins" can still be losses.

The path Apple took to their map debacle is still being sorted out, but some reports say Apple walked away from the negotiation table with Google because Google wasn't granting it voice-guided turn-by-turn directions.  Apple had time left on its current contract, but had such a philosophical disconnect with Google, they decided to cut the relationship short and take their own path.  Apple wasn't going to settle for a compromised position.  They wanted the relationship with Google on their own set of terms, and, especially in hindsight, this decision fits the expression, "cutting off your nose to spite your face."

Compromise never feels great. Everyone likes a win, but some days it's smarter to settle for a tie.

Are there areas in your work where you need to let go of an all out victory?  Are there battles that can be put off for another day?  What is holding you back from finding a way to compromise?

Lesson - Compromising can be a win

3. Admitting failure isn't enough.

Last week Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized about the map mess.  Points given.  However, the admission of failure comes with a commitment for slow, minimal improvement. Maybe this will mollify people.  To me, it feels like a huge withdrawal on customer loyalty (and trust me, I'm a loyalist!).

To correct a big problem, one must institute a big strategy for solution.  In this case, there is a Big Problem paired with a tiny strategy.

Lesson - Solutions must match the size of the problem

Ultimately, when we tackle problems at work, we need to shelve our pride, be willing to compromise, and make bold changes which match the size of the challenge.  To do less hurts not only our efforts, but also impacts others.  The Apple/Google


proves the truth of the classic African expression   - "

When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers

." Indeed.