It’s an excellent view into both the way Jony Ive thinks about design, and user experience, and how Apple adopted his methods, and built a team culture and leadership art centered around it.
One of the philosophies that is made quite clear in the book is that Jony immerses himself in the user needs and expectations when he is designing – before writing the story that will dictate the concept of a product. Steve Jobs was well known for telling partners and employees of Apple; that customers do not know what they want and so it’s Apples job to tell them.
I don’t think Jony Ive shared this same mentality. His view, was that customers do in fact know what they want and that it is a designer’s job to help them communicate this, through a lifetime of iterative product designs which the customer can experience, and ultimately build trust in the brand that their needs are being met.
Jony Ive and Apple push boundaries. Their commitment to reversing the product design process to allow design and user experience to dictate operations, and engineering, was their true innovation. This is what allowed them to claw back from being within the grasps of bankruptcy, to be one of the most successful companies in history, in just over a decade.
Every advertising company will tell you that at least one new client a week tells them they want to look and feel just like Apple. We all use their products, and we all read the articles and books published in their honour. Yet very few of the major brands out there have the same commitment to innovation that Apple do.
Having spent majority of my career in Financial Services, I can tell you that there is not one brand that has inspired me like Apple has, nor have I seen a commitment from an organisation in the industry, to change their operating model so drastically that it has re-written history.
With the amount of business change happening at the moment due to the technology industry providing greater connectivity, transparency and automation, why are there no standout brands re-writing history in the way Apple did, with its product design from the very late 90’s to the year the iPad came out in 2010?
Banking has remained the same for over 50 years. Sure we have created some new innovative products and our operational efficiency gains have been rapid due to the introduction of the Internet, but really has much changed from a customer experience point of view across lending, transacting and managing wealth?
My questions are important because like it or not customer needs change, but they do know what they want. Like Apple, it is up to the leadership of companies to foster a culture that strives to inspire with design and user experience first, and only then followed by operations and engineering.
If you believe that your company can not do this because of cost constraints or change management challenges, then it’s time to give up now otherwise you are just delaying the inevitable – which is your customers walk away never to return!
A quote out of Kahney’s book “The thing is, its very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better” – Jony Ive
That is the challenge to organisations wanting to build a successful future. My advice to leaders who are concerned with the amount of change and where to start is simply this; JUST START!