I have been off for a week in the downeast area of Maine, spending time in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park as well as hunting some great lighthouses. And learning that it's hard to find good tea in that part of the country. But we did find a great teahouse in Freeport on our way back to Portland yesterday. Jacqueline's Tea Room was a great capstone to our time away.
Interestingly, I was able to keep current with my e-mail and some web work while away using the iPhone. I was quite pleased that I did what I needed it to do to keep me in touch with clients and work that I have going, even though I did my best to disconnect for much of each day. One of the things that I noted was the on-going surprise from many quarters regarding the success of the iPhone. Frankly, I think most of the people discussing it do not understand the real issue.
The real issue is this: all of the sophisticated phones on the market today stink for one reason or another. They are too big, too limited, too unreliable, or too difficult to actually use when you are mobile. The market has longed for anything to grab that would resolve these issues, giving them an intuitive interface to the functions that they need in a mobile device.
That is why the iPhone has been so popular. It does what Apple said it would do. All of the complaints are about functions that Apple said that the phone would not do, or complaints about the design decisions that Apple made (such as using a soft keyboard instead of hard keys). They all miss the point that it lives up to the promises that Steve Jobs and Apple made, starting last January.
So, what is there to learn from this? Simple: underpromise and overdeliver. It's a well-known truth of business and leadership, but most people try to take a shortcut. They overpromise and then underdeliver.
This past week, I had to hold to a commitment even though I was off in the woods. I had promised a work product to a client by Friday, so I spent some time huddled over my iPhone getting it off to them late Friday after spending the day along the Maine coast. But many (perhaps most) producers of products don't keep their commitments and few take seriously their communications with customers and prospects.
The same holds true for leaders. Do you follow through? Do the members of your team know that they can count on you? Are you sure?
Ask them in a way that allows them to be transparent and honest. Then listen to what they say. You'll gain a great opportunity to grow, and if you follow through on changes, the benefits you'll reap will be astounding.
What do you think?