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Apple manager: ‘We cannot launch’

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers

AppleYears ago, Anthony Soohoo was a product manager on Apple’s PowerBook team. As his group prepared a product launch, they ran tests to confirm it operated smoothly.

During the final testing, Soohoo discovered a small flaw in the system that could harm its performance. But the defect only surfaced in a tiny sample size, making it hard for Soohoo to assess what to do. On the one hand, there was momentum to stay on schedule and bring the product to market. A delay in shipping the new release would cost Apple millions of dollars.

Yet Soohoo worried about the scope of the problem. While it did not seem statistically significant, he understood that it could wind up proving a far larger issue once users began complaining about it and uncovering more bugs.

“If the flaw was bigger than we thought, it could have created a huge loss of trust with our customers,” he says.

He elected to hold off on the launch. While it took extra time to resolve the issue, Soohoo felt that releasing a more reliable product justified the wait.

“Not a popular decision at the time, but it was the right decision for the business,” he says.

Now an entrepreneur and angel investor, Soohoo learned a valuable lesson from the experience: When confronting a tough decision, place your long-term objectives ahead of short-term gains. You will build a stronger and more lasting relationship with customers by aligning with their long-term interests.

— Adapted from “7 Business Leaders Share How They Solved The Biggest Moral Dilemmas Of Their Careers,” Vivian Giang, www.fastcompany.com.

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