Steve Jobs on product design

From the Steve Jobs lost video comes his thoughts on product design:

You know, one of the things that really hurt Apple was after I left John Sculley got a very serious disease. It’s the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90% of the work. And if you just tell all these other people “here’s this great idea,” then of course they can go off and make it happen.

And the problem with that is that there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do. Or factories do. Or robots do.

Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently.

And it’s that process that is the magic.”

This really captures the awesome part of product design for me. It’s the part you can’t put into words…the problem that gets in your head and doesn’t go away, the creative part that you can’t capture in a process. And the discovery part is crucial here…the discoveries you make along the way that you couldn’t have foreseen at the beginning…those are as much a part of the fun as anything else.

There are many types of people in the world. Some live to make money. Some live to get stuff done. Some live to look good to others. Some live to solve problems like these.

Published: February 2nd, 2014