4 Leadership Lessons From Apple’s MapGate

I miss Google maps on my iphone. It was taken away without my consent and I want it back.

If you have an iphone, you know what I’m talking about.

If you don’t have an iphone, here’s what happened over the last few months: 1)Apple rolls out its new Map app. 2) Apple apologies because it’s less than stellar. 3) Customers freak. 4) Apple fires a few leaders.

Headaches for many (including and almost always forgotten, the customer). But the lessons don’t stop with a botched product. Watching how Apple has handled the communication and the leadership shake-up is what fascinates me most.

Leadership Lessons from MapGate Apply to All of Us

  • What’s good for the organization may not be good for you. Apple zapped Google maps from its smartphone for business reasons. Good for Apple (it thought). Bad for customers (at least in the short-term). Similarly, your organization or its leaders may move in a direction that is not where you personally want to go. You’ve got a decision to make — drink the kool-aid lovingly or move on.
  • Reputations stick. Apple Maps blew it. I’ll forever be skeptical of Siri’s directional accuracy. Stereotypes are difficult to shake. Who’s excited to work with “Micromanaging Miranda” or “Humorless Harry”? Don’t all raise your hands at once.
  • Take off the blinders. Test, retest and test again. Half baked designs and deployment always come back to haunt us. Often we think an idea/program is amazing, we’re on track, we’ve got tons of support only to be blindsided by a huge roadblock. Listen, ask questions and spend some time outside the echo chamber.
  • Be prepared for the fall. In Apple’s case, Scott Forstall and Richard Williamson got the boot. Don’t bury your head in the political sand. If someone’s going down, that someone could be you. Have a plan, keep your network warm and be prepared that fingers might all be pointing in your direction.

Leaders fall and products fail. As much as we’d like to stay out of the mess, we may find ourselves lost in the thick of it. Make sure you have a reliable map to find your way out.


Marta Steele is a Partner Manager at PeopleResults. Connect with her on Twitter @MartaSteele or through email at msteele@www.people-results.com.