Economy

“What do you think?”

Steve Jobs at his home office in Palo Alto. Photo by Diana Walker.

Four powerful words to get creative teams to do their best work.

Arno Gourdo, Senior director, Creative Cloud Experience at Adobe, has a good article describing what he learned first hand while working with Steve Jobs at Apple.

Steve Jobs enters the room and goes straight to the computer I’m sitting at.

“So, show me what you got”, Steve asks, skipping introductions and pleasantries, as he pulls the chair next to me.

“We’re having a bit of a problem right now”, I say, stating what seems at the moment to be a vast understatement.

Steve looks at the screen, still covered in the dense and cryptic messages of the low level debugger.

“OK, well, it’s a good thing we’re not shipping yet”, he says, cracking a smile.

HIGHLIGHTS and OBSERVATIONS:

Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.

A few weeks later, sitting at the same computer, Steve is leaning in, his face just a few inches from the screen as he studies the pixels. On the screen is a new design for the shape of the Aqua windows. In the previous iterations, the windows had four rounded corners, but now the corners at the bottom are square, to solve a design problem with the placement of the scrollbars.

“What do you think?”, asks Steve, turning his head and looking at me.

My mind freezes for a second at the implausibility of the situation: Steve Jobs just asked for my opinion.

Steve is waiting for my answer. Nobody else jumps in to give their take. Steve wants to know what I think.

I better not say something stupid. Why is he even asking me? Isn’t there someone else in the room that he could turn to? I’m not even a designer.

“I liked the previous design. It was more organic.”, I answer with a shrug.

“I know”, Steve says thoughtfully. After a pause, he adds, “But this one looks like a proscenium. It’s going to be fine.”

And he was right. It was fine. But, whether he knew it or not, the fact that he cared for my opinion encouraged me to strive to do my best. And as a result, I ended up doing more than I knew I was capable of.

Much more in the full article here.

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