Safari demos

I’m working my way through an interview of Ken Kocienda by Frank Chen of a16z where Ken shares insights from his book “Creative Selection” – a look at the Apple design process during the Steve Jobs era. One interesting anecdote was from the team’s experience when they were building the first version of Safari into the MacOS.

When Ken shared that Steve used to make it to the engineering demos (equivalent of regular stand-ups/status checks), Frank wonders how the CEO of Apple found time to do so. Ken’s response is “focus” – one of the words that he believes best described Steve Jobs.

Similarly, Ken talks about Steve effectively being the only Product Manager for the 20 odd person team that shipped the first version of iOS. Apple famously did very few things and that meant Steve could stay on top of each of these projects at a granular level.

There’s a famous Steve Jobs quote on focus that I’m sure we’ve all come across – “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.”

These anecdotes brought that quote to life for me. The next step is to take action.

Much to learn I have…

Jony Ive on a focus lesson from Steve Jobs

When every bone in your body wants to do it because it is a great idea, when you even wake up thinking about it – and still say no because you are focused on something else. That’s focus.

We see Steve’s relentless focus again in the next lesson that Ive shares. Steve is so relentlessly focused on the product that he gives up his (and most human beings’) desire to be liked.

The latin root of “decision” is derived from “to cut” or “to kill.” Focus and great decision making go together.