I can think of no higher praise than to remember him as a deeply and inspiringly unreasonable man, one who would never take, “…because that’s how things are” as an answer – there was always a better way.
He had the inspiration to think differently, the tenacity to not accept anything less than his vision and the charisma to attract talented people around him to deliver that vision.
On a professional front I think it’s worth taking a moment to consider how much can be achieved when you are truly uncompromising about the importance of excellence in product design and customer experience. Apple is not without it’s flaws, it does not produce ‘perfect’ experiences or products but when the world wants to benchmark against you… you’re clearly doing something right.
On a personal front I would encourage everyone to take 15 minutes to watch his Stanford Commencement Address and gain some inspiration in your own life to not “Settle” for anything less than your dreams.
We will all continue to draw inspiration from his work for many decades to come and I’m sure that Apple will continue to provide new inspirations even now that their visionary leader has passed. I’m looking forward to the future that he has contributed to so much to enabling.
My recently easternised friend and excellent customer experience dude, Marc McNeill, has found a fantastic interview with The Master Brewer for Guinness. In the world of technology and consumer products/services we might equate him to a Product Manager/Developer. He has an on the ground responsibility for producing the end-product.
Our Master brewer shows that his priorities lie with an overall customer experience and how his product features (flavour, colour etc) fit in with that… the actual product features are the last thing he mentions.
Marc challenges us to think about what this means for the way that we organise ourselves around defining the customer experience in the context of developing innovative and irresistible products
There are very few master brewers who go beyond just satisfying their customers with features and functionality, to focus upon delivering “a great all round experience”. To turn the mediocre and mundane into theatre. Like Apple have done with the iPhone. Like Guinness do with their stout. Yet something gets lost as you move away from the strategic owners of the Brand, to those responsible for tactical implementations. And this loss can obviously be costly. If the Guinness Master Brewer was only responsible for a drink that is an acquired taste, would it still be the sixth top ranked global Beer brand?
This is an example from a single product world, but in many companies we are dealing with developing individual products that bundle together to form the consumer proposition. Understanding how we can enable our Master Brewers to be responsible for excellent flavour that complements the rest of the products on our menu is key to being able to offer value at a consumer level and understand the profitability of our component products…
I would look to companies such as Apple, Telcos (where there are often many components to the end-bundle a customer might buy) and premium financial services to see how they organise themselves around understanding customer needs and delivering a selection of products to them that together create an overall experience. There is a lot an organisation needs to do to be able to deliver an end to end experience across a range of products and services. Guiness has the luxury of being fairly single-product minded… for the rest of us we need to make sure our organisation is lined up to deliver not just our product developers…
I’m going to let Jason do most of the talking because he has written this so well… but to set some context… Don Norman was critiquing 37Signals for designing for themselves BEFORE designing for the customer, in fact he seems to imply he thought they weren’t designing for customers at all.
What is excellent about this posting is that Jason is spot in pointing out that the worlds best innovators and creators have all come from a position of thinking about themselves first and Jason articulates very well the speed that this allows 37Signals to design at. He also highlights that they ARE VERY customer focussed in how they then amend, iterate and improve on original thinking…
It always seems a bit strange to hear a customer experience expert say “The customer doesn’t know what they want…” but it is often true especially when you are developing propositions on the boundaries of what exists today in the mass market…