Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What Working With Steve Jobs Was Actually Like

In the words of Glenn Reid, who worked on iMovie and iPhoto with Jobs:

“…when I worked with Steve on product design, there was kind of an approach we took, unconsciously, which I characterize in my mind as a ‘cauldron’. There might be 3 or 4 or even 10 of us in the room, looking at, say, an iteration of iPhoto. Ideas would come forth, suggestions, observations, whatever. We would ‘throw them into the cauldron’, and stir it, and soon nobody remembered exactly whose ideas were which. This let us make a great soup, a great potion, without worrying about who had what idea. This was critically important, in retrospect, to decouple the CEO from the ideas. If an idea was good, we'd all eventually agree on it, and if it was bad, it just kind of sank to the bottom of the pot. We didn't really remember whose ideas were which -- it just didn't matter. Until, of course, the patent attorneys came around and asked, but that's a whole ‘nother story.”

Even an with his famously vast ego, there were times when Steve knew when to set his ego aside for the good of the product.

Also, perhaps a more subtle point. Let’s think about this sentence:

“If an idea was good, we'd all eventually agree on it, and if it was bad, it just kind of sank to the bottom of the pot.

My favorite part, actually. I believe that in, order to come up with good ideas, you need permission – from yourself and others – to come up with bad ideas along the way. Nobody produces brilliant ideas 100% of the time and if you try, you’ll be mediocre at best and wrapped in “analysis paralysis” at worst.

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