The ingenious way Steve Jobs led design reviews at Apple

Suzanne LaBarre for Fast Company:

Never surprise Steve Jobs. Bob Baxley learned this lesson quickly in his former role as director of design for the Apple Online Store. Baxley ran design reviews at the tech giant—made the most profitable company in the world by its design-obsessed cofounder and CEO—and he shared his insights recently on the Design Better Podcast.

Baxley recalls it as a very intense process: “People had to show their work every 48 hours basically. I came to describe the process as a little bit like Saturday Night Live, where Monday we sort of threw around some ideas as to what we might think we’d have for the week. On Tuesday we sort of had like the initial run through the sketches. On Thursday we had a dress rehearsal, and on Friday was the show with the executive team.”

Despite its intensity, Baxley says that it lowered the pressure because “. . . every Friday, there was a new show. And so if we bombed on Friday or one of the sketches didn’t go well, it’s okay ’cause we’re back next week.”

MacDailyNews Take: When you have to show your work frequently and regularly, you can get help along the way while never getting lost on the way to the goal.

6 Comments

  1. This is why, with nauseating regularity, I remind you that I met Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and John Lennon. And other famous and no-so-famous people, all documented with precision at www YouTube com / citizenX. I also met their wives, mistresses and other lovers. I also met their pets. I also met their neighbours. Some came to my shop. Some helped me take my kids to little league. Some were famous, some weren’t. But it was glorious.

    1. This is why? The genius of Steve Jobs design process is why you have to drop names of the rich and famous “with nauseating regularity?”

      I hate to break the news to you, but meeting famous people does not magically make you one of them. If you were Steve Jobs or John Lennon or Bill Gates, then you would not feel the need to tell everyone that you have met famous people. You don’t become famous by osmosis.

  2. “When you have to show your work frequently and regularly, you can get help along the way while never getting lost on the way to the goal.”
    Wooow, Apple used Agile Development practices, just like everybody 🙂

      1. Bob Baxley was talking about his time at Apple. Which ran from 2006 to 2014. I wouldn’t call that “preceding Agile Development”. (The Agile Manifesto was published in 2001.) Steve, like everyone else in Silicon Valley would have been well aware of it.

        In 2006, for someone to describe agile development practices as something new and cool just shows that, in 2006, that person didn’t know a lot about development practices 🙂

        1. Actually, that part of Steve’s style dated back to the very early 80s (and possibly even before). It very much predated “Agile Development”.

          Back then people called it micro management and many, many people hated it. However, it did get the radically new Lisa out the door and laid the ground work for getting the first Mac out the door.

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