The Hardest Word
By | October 31st, 2012

The news that Apple showed the door to Scott Forstall, the guy who was in charge of the company’s mobile software initiatives, is a reminder that even the best companies make mistakes.

In the case of Apple, it is the infamous story of how their troubled maps software replaced the ubiquitous Google Maps in iOS 6 and, of course, in the new iPhone5.

When asked to apologize to Apple’s adoring – but pissed off – public,Forstall refused, forcing CEO Tim Cook to take one for the team.

What is it about saying “I’m sorry” that is so difficult for so many – especially those in positions of prominence and power?  Whether in politics or in business, it is rare to hear apologies for mistakes.


Except in Japan where executives there often not only apologize, they have been known to resign when they fail to reach their stated goals.

But in the U.S. culture, perhaps we are raising a generation of future executives who get the pat on the back for trying, even though they’ve failed.  Perhaps this eventually permeates the business world where epic fails are often met with excuses, cover-ups, finger-pointing, and other denials designed to deflect and save face.  Everythingexcept “I’m sorry.”

But does an apology matter for an inability to hit Wall Street numbers, ratings goals, or sales projections?  And do you feel better and a sense of closure when someone in business apologizes to you?

In Forstall’s case, some of the news stories also indicate he had issues with other managers along the way as well so his departure from Apple may have more to do with his apology issues.  He was also responsible for Siri.  (Hey, I’d like an apology for that one!)

When a company as successful and quality-focused as Apple delivers products that violate some of its most important brand attributes, something has to happen.

And Apple’s Tim Cook said as much.

So what’s taking RIM so long?


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