A few days ago a phenomenal film appeared on iTunes for rent which contains a long lost interview with Steve Jobs. It’s just Steve talking to the interviewer, on a single camera, for an hour and a half, and yet it’s completely captivating. I have transcribed two parts that really hit home and were inspiring. The first is on the process of creation, and contains nuggets of wisdom I need to hear myself from time to time.
How do you order your priorities. What important to you in the development of the product?
You know. One of the things that really hurt apple is that after I left John Scully got a very serious disease. That disease is thinking that having a really great idea is 90% of the work. And that if you just tell all these other people here’s this great idea, then of course they can go off and make it happen. The problem with that is that there’s a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve this great idea it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts, and you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. and you also find that there’s tremendous trade offs you have to make. There are just cretin things that you can’t make electrons do, or make plastic do, or glass do, or fctories do, or robots do. And as you get into all these things, designing a product is keeping 5000 things in your brain, these concepts, and fitting them all together, and continuing to push to fit them together in new and different ways, to get what you want. And every day you discover something new, that is a new problem, or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently. And it’s that process that is the magic.
On team work:
When i was a young kid there was a widowed man who lived up the street. […] one day he said, come up to my garage, I want to show you something. And he pulled out this dusty old rock tumbler. We went out to the back and we got some regular old ugly rocks and we put them in the can with a little bit of liquid and a little bit of grit, and we closed the can up, turned the motor on and he said, come back tomorrow. and I came back the next day, we opened the tumblr and we took out these amazingly beautiful polished rocks. the same common stones that had gone in through rubbing against each other, creating a bit of friction, creating a little bit of noise, had come out these beautiful polished rocks. That’s always been, in my mind, my metaphor for a team working really hard on something they’re passionate about. Through the team, through the group of incredibly talented people, bumping up against each other, having arguments and fights sometimes, and working together they polish each other, they polish the ideas and what comes out are these really beautiful stones.