Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tech Beat Apple's design process - BusinessWeek

Tech Beat Apple's design process - BusinessWeek: "Interesting presentation at SXSW from Michael Lopp, senior engineering manager at Apple, who tried to assess how Apple can ‘get’ design when so many other companies try and fail."

The funny thing is, is that none of this is unknown or mysterious. All of the things Apple does have been widely preached for a long time, in many different industries. Stuff like this was done in the car industry a long time ago and they got back to it after the Japanese ate their lunch.

The trouble is most companies won't commit the resources to actually do it the right way. Most middle managers are tasked with keeping costs down. Obviously spending money on 10 prototypes, 9 of which will be thrown away is just not a very good way of keeping costs down. Or if they are mandated to come up with 10 they only provide enough money and time for 3 good ones and 7 throwaways. Often it is even worse then that: They call a brainstorming meeting and ask for "good" ideas, which shuts things down before they even start as everyone looks for ideas the boss will think of as "good".

Brainstorming is all about quantity not quality, you can't tell a good idea from a bad one right at first for the most part and that is fine. You spend an hour or two generating as many ideas as possible and then later after a break or on a later day, come back and sort them into possible and impossible piles and then go through the possible pile and hammer on them until they break then work on the least broken ideas and make them work.

Pony meeting is a great term I have to save that.

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