Steve Jobs' Real Genius: Tweaking, Curating, Editing & Remixing To Make Things Better
from the indeed dept
Jobs’s sensibility was editorial, not inventive. His gift lay in taking what was in front of him—the tablet with stylus—and ruthlessly refining it. After looking at the first commercials for the iPad, he tracked down the copywriter, James Vincent, and told him, “Your commercials suck.”This is a key point that we've been arguing about for years. There's tremendous value in what Jobs did: innovating not actually by inventing, but by tweaking and "editing" the ideas and designs of others to make them "perfect." That act of taking what others have done and making it more valuable is such an underrated skill -- and yet it's really the key ingredient to innovation.
“Well, what do you want?” Vincent shot back. “You’ve not been able to tell me what you want.”I’ll know it when I see it. That was Jobs’s credo, and until he saw it his perfectionism kept him on edge. He looked at the title bars—the headers that run across the top of windows and documents—that his team of software developers had designed for the original Macintosh and decided he didn’t like them. He forced the developers to do another version, and then another, about twenty iterations in all, insisting on one tiny tweak after another, and when the developers protested that they had better things to do he shouted, “Can you imagine looking at that every day? It’s not just a little thing. It’s something we have to do right.”
“I don’t know,” Jobs said. “You have to bring me something new. Nothing you’ve shown me is even close.”
Vincent argued back and suddenly Jobs went ballistic. “He just started screaming at me,” Vincent recalled. Vincent could be volatile himself, and the volleys escalated.
When Vincent shouted, “You’ve got to tell me what you want,” Jobs shot back, “You’ve got to show me some stuff, and I’ll know it when I see it.”
If you look back, historically, it's what Thomas Edison really did as well. He didn't actually invent very much himself. But he took others' ideas and made them better -- often recognizing how valuable the ideas were much more than those who originally came up with them. That's a form of editing and a form of remixing to make things better -- and Edison and Jobs were both amazingly skillful at it. So skillful, that many people falsely credit them with "inventing" things they really just remixed.