Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How Apple Does It

From Time Canada.

Nuggets [emphasis mine]:

  • Steve Jobs ... [will] tell you an instructive little story. “Here’s what you find at a lot of companies ... You know how you see a show car, and it’s really cool, and then four years later you see the production car, and it sucks? And you go, What happened? They had it! They had it in the palm of their hands! They grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory! What happened was, the designers came up with this really great idea. Then they take it to the engineers, and the engineers go, ‘Nah, we can’t do that. That’s impossible.’ And so it gets a lot worse. Then they take it to the manufacturing people, and they go, ‘We can’t build that!’ And it gets a lot worse.”
  • [P]roducts don’t pass from team to team. There aren’t discrete, sequential development stages. Instead, it’s simultaneous and organic. Products get worked on in parallel by all departments at once—design, hardware, software—in endless rounds of interdisciplinary design reviews. Managers elsewhere boast about how little time they waste in meetings; Apple is big on them and proud of it. “The historical way of developing products just doesn’t work when you’re as ambitious as we are,” says [Jonathan] Ive [VP, Design] ... “When the challenges are that complex, you have to develop a product in a more collaborative, integrated way.”
  • [H]e recognizes that in an increasingly networked world, in which gadgets can’t just do their own thing but have to talk to one another, that conversation will go better if Jobs has scripted both sides of it. “One company makes the software. The other makes the hardware ... It’s not working,” Jobs says. “The innovation can’t happen fast enough. The integration isn’t seamless enough. No one takes responsibility for the user interface. It’s a mess.”
  • But Jobs doesn’t care just about winning. He’s willing to lose. He has done it often enough. He’s just not willing to be lame, and that may, increasingly, be the winning approach.
  • “The product now is the iTunes Music Store and iTunes and the iPod and the software that goes on the iPod. A lot of companies don’t really have control, or they can’t really work in a collaborative way to truly make a system. We’re really about a system.
  • What Jobs has accepted—the truth that he’s willing to face and others cower from—is that new things don’t want to be born. Innovation causes problems, and it’s much easier simply to avoid it.