Design Crazy?

One of the perks of traveling for business is the time I get to catch up on some reading while flying between locations. Last week I had the chance to travel to Missouri to visit some customers and was able to reread a couple of books I’ve found interesting. The one I want to write about now is an interesting look at Apple’s approach to selecting, designing, and bringing products to market. The book, Design Crazy, is very short and a quick read, it is really a large collection of quotes from people involved in the work arranged around certain themes and events.

Here are a few of the items I highlighted while reading:

“The competitors, like Commodore and Kaypro, were all doing speeds and feeds, whereas Steve always wanted things like “What is the significance in the world? How might this change things?” – Steve Hayden


“He was thinking about the problem very holistically, saying, “Can we unify this experience?” – Don Lindsay


“The challenge in delivering simplicity is, marketing wants to bring more functionality to bear, engineering wants to bring more options to bear—and all of that just adds to confusion and clutter.” – Don Lindsay


“Jony’s funny. He’s an artist, which made him very different from the engineers. We would have arguments about stuff, but the best products come when there’s creative tension.” – Jon Rubinstein


“The compromises Apple took on design were legendary: you didn’t have copy/paste, you didn’t have multi-tasking, you didn’t have apps. Apple said, “We just want to have a cool phone.” They focused on making people love the product. And that’s the distinction at the end of the day. Everybody else was focusing on being smart. Apple focused on being loved.” – Horace Dediu


“There had always been products that had been beautifully designed. But they were high-end, and very few people actually owned them. Apple was the first company that took high design and made it mainstream. It taught the world taste.” – Phil Libin

The author, Max Chafkin, uses selection and organization of the quotes to share the story rather than trying to clumsily imposing a more explicit narrative on top.

Supplemental Reading #1 Linchpin

When I was younger I was given some advice about running a business, if someone became indispensable then you should fire them. At the time I thought this sounded counter-intuitive and didn’t understand why someone would advocate such a tactic, it didn’t make sense to me, surely you would want to get the most value from your employees for your business? After reading Seth’s book, Linchpin, I recognized the risk reducing tactic in the stories that are shared of how people fear standing out and avoid risk.

Seth’s book is an interesting read, I’ve read several books that focus on the “tactics” of success but Linchpin is one that explains why we so often fail to implement the great tactics we learn. The book covers a lot of ground but is a really engaging read. Becoming a linchpin carries it’s own risk but for me risk and reward are intertwined, if we aren’t willing to take risks in our life then we become part of the middle ground, unable to make a substantive difference in the world around us. It’s an interesting book with some great insights and interesting stories.