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Former Apple designer dispels myths about Steve Jobs, corporate culture

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
Ex-Apple senior designer and user experience evangelist Mark Kawano gives a peek behind the curtain of Cupertino's inner workings in an interview with Fast Company, dispelling four myths regarding the company's design studio and the reputation of cofounder Steve Jobs.


Mark Kawano, former Apple designer and creator of visual storytelling app Storehouse.
Source: Fast Company


Drawing on seven years of experience at Apple designing products like Aperture and iPhone, then later as a UX evangelist, Kawano shed light on how the company is able to churn out the innovative designs now synonymous with the Apple brand. In an interview with Fast Company, Kawano said he wanted to debunk myths surrounding Cupertino's design process.

The first target: Apple's design team. Kawano said there is a misconception that Apple is able to product high-quality, intricately detailed products because it has the best designers and design process.

"It's actually the engineering culture, and the way the organization is structured to appreciate and support design," Kawano said. "Everybody there is thinking about UX and design, not just the designers. And that's what makes everything about the product so much better...much more than any individual designer or design team."

At Apple, instead of having to deal with infighting and corporate bureaucracy, designers are able to spend their time on the task at hand. More interesting is how the company makes hires. Kawano feels almost everyone at Apple "thinks like a designer," each contributing to a common well-designed end product.

Second on Kawano's hit list is the myth that Apple has an inordinately large number of specialized designers working on various projects. When he was with the company, design teams consisted of roughly 100 people for core products, significantly less than other big names in the industry. Kawano conceded that Apple may be expanding these groups as part of a corporate reshuffling post-Steve Jobs.

Also discussed was Apple's attention to detail, which some believe is built into a rote design process. Kawano echoes previous reports that some of the most memorable and innovative details, like a screen shake when an iPhone user enters an incorrect password, are created during a designer or engineer's down time.

"It's almost impossible to come up with really innovative things when you have a deadline and schedule," he said.

Steve Jobs


Finally, Kawano dished on Steve Jobs, saying the late Apple cofounder's reputation of being passionate to the point of frightening is misunderstood. What Jobs wanted was the "best thing" and expected those working around him to want the same.

"He had trouble understanding people who didn't want that same thing and wondered why they'd be working for him if that was the case," Kawano said. "I think Steve had a very low tolerance for people who didn't care about stuff."

Although Kawano did not regularly interact with Jobs, he said the tech guru was "super accessible."

"That was interesting too, he was super demanding...but when it came to other things, he wanted to be very democratic, and to be treated like everyone else. And he was constantly struggling with those roles."
post #2 of 46
I really do miss Steve Jobs.
post #3 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mutoneon View Post

I really do miss Steve Jobs.

 

I wonder if Microsoft fans miss the other Steve as well.

post #4 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mutoneon View Post

I really do miss Steve Jobs.

 

Having actually met the guy a couple times when I worked at Apple HQ and him being a large role model in my life, I do too. It's still difficult to believe he is no longer with us. 

post #5 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post
 

 

I wonder if Microsoft fans miss the other Steve as well.

I am not sure if "miss" is the right word here. But I am sure that they notice his absence.

post #6 of 46
Originally Posted by plovell View Post
I am not sure if "miss" is the right word here.

 

As in “with tomatoes on the way out.”

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #7 of 46
I'm the same way. If you don't care, then you're wasting your time and mine. You're fired.
post #8 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

I wonder if Microsoft fans miss the other Steve as well.

Yeah, like, "What happened to that festering boil on my ass..?"

Speaking of Festering...

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #9 of 46
And this, @AZREOSpecialist, is why Apple doesn't have a "VP of Innovation": because everyone "ideates" and everyone innovates. It's not Jony Ive or Tim Cook's job to be the most innovative person in the room. It's in the culture.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #10 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mutoneon View Post

I really do miss Steve Jobs.
Bro, me too. Nice thought. 1smile.gif He was one of my heros. Along, with Muhammad Ali, Ayrton Senna, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and mick jagger. Best.
post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

Having actually met the guy a couple times when I worked at Apple HQ...

you lucky son of a....
post #12 of 46
I miss Steve Jobs as well. In my opinion, Apple will never be the same, no matter who is driving the company. Don't know whether it will be better or worst in the future, after Steve, but companies need to make tough decisions, and that only Steve had guts to make. I personally did like his low tolerance behaviour when it comes to sacrificing on quality of Apple's product.
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

Having actually met the guy a couple times when I worked at Apple HQ and him being a large role model in my life, I do too. It's still difficult to believe he is no longer with us. 

Funny, I miss Richard Feynman.
I have enough money to last the rest of my life. Unless I buy something. - Jackie Mason
Never own anything that poops. - RadarTheKat
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I have enough money to last the rest of my life. Unless I buy something. - Jackie Mason
Never own anything that poops. - RadarTheKat
Reply
post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

I wonder if Microsoft fans miss the other Steve as well.

 

The "other Steve?"

Who?

 

/s

post #15 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post
I'm the same way. If you don't care, then you're wasting your time and mine. You're fired.

 

Me too.

If I were in a position to fire anyone, that is.

Seriously, there's nothing more annoying than working on a project with people who are not committed to excellence. I can take many of the initial bumps in the road that is a team project—split attention, naiveté, initial ignorance of the situation, confusion, etc. Every member of a team has their strength and weaknesses. But once we all get settled in and start on the project, everyone better be committed and making a full effort.

post #16 of 46
"It's actually the engineering culture, and the way the organization is structured to appreciate and support design," Kawano said. "Everybody there is thinking about UX and design, not just the designers. And that's what makes everything about the product so much better...much more than any individual designer or design team."


Well Said !

That's WHAT DIFFERENCIATES Apple from Other Internet BUGGIES Such As Google !!!

In that Context I Recommend Apple to Buy This Company instead of " Beats " by Less Than A Fiftieth Money They're Going to Spend, Not Because I'm JAPANESE.



http://gigaom.com/2014/05/13/a-japanese-startup-unveils-a-long-lasting-and-safer-battery-made-from-carbon/








Edited by HAMETA - 5/22/14 at 7:39pm
post #17 of 46
steve jobs was always accessible and willing to talk, whether in the cafe, building one or just crossing paths. Same way at NeXT.
post #18 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

steve jobs was always accessible and willing to talk, whether in the cafe, building one or just crossing paths. Same way at NeXT.

We NEVER FORGET He Usted to Respond to e-mail Asking from Unknown Person Diligently.
post #19 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
The first target: Apple's design team. Kawano said there is a misconception that Apple is able to product high-quality, intricately detailed products because it has the best designers and design process.

"It's actually the engineering culture, and the way the organization is structured to appreciate and support design," Kawano said. "Everybody there is thinking about UX and design, not just the designers. And that's what makes everything about the product so much better...much more than any individual designer or design team."

At Apple, instead of having to deal with infighting and corporate bureaucracy, designers are able to spend their time on the task at hand. More interesting is how the company makes hires. Kawano feels almost everyone at Apple "thinks like a designer," each contributing to a common well-designed end product.

 

This is a great point.

I have to say I get tired of always hearing X & Y about Jony Ive (no offense to him.) He's frankly very lucky to get to work at a company that gets and appreciates design. It's also a company where the head of design has access to the top of the executive suite. Most important of all, everyone at Apple gets and appreciates design. The design process isn't an after thought, it's an integral to all activities right from the start. As a designer I can assure you, there is no other company like this.

It's also good to hear a designer singing the praises of engineers. We all hear about how Apple products are toys, etc. The fact is Apple has the best engineers in the business. An they are good enough to know the design is the glue that joins the viability of engineering, profitability, and desirability that makes Apple products great. Everyone at Apple knows that whatever they do, It has to satisfy all three factors. Most places only look at one or two of them.

post #20 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by DESuserIGN View Post

This is a great point.
I have to say I get tired of always hearing X & Y about Jony Ive (no offense to him.) He's frankly very lucky to get to work at a company that gets and appreciates design. It's also a company where the head of design has access to the top of the executive suite. Most important of all, everyone at Apple gets and appreciates design. The design process isn't an after thought, it's an integral to all activities right from the start. As a designer I can assure you, there is no other company like this.
It's also good to hear a designer singing the praises of engineers. We all hear about how Apple products are toys, etc. The fact is Apple has the best engineers in the business. An they are good enough to know the design is the glue that joins the viability of engineering, profitability, and desirability that makes Apple products great. Everyone at Apple knows that whatever they do, It has to satisfy all three factors. Most places only look at one or two of them.
More and more companies are becoming design focused. Big companies like Pepsi, P&G, 3M, General Motors,etc. either have Chief Design Officers or VPs of Design in senior positions. I don't think Ive being part of the c-suite is luck anymore. It might have been when Jobs came back to Apple and plucked his team out of obscurity, but not any more. Plus from everything I've read about Apple the lines between designers and engineers are blurred. A number of Apple industrial designers are listed as inventors on patents along side mechanical engineers.
post #21 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

steve jobs was always accessible and willing to talk, whether in the cafe, building one or just crossing paths. Same way at NeXT.
Did he really fire somebody in an elevator or is that an urban myth?
post #22 of 46

What  fabulous article. Simple, and to-the-point. Kawano seems to really get to the heart of what SJ was all about. Kudos, AI.

 

My only disappointment is, something like a piece of trash rumor about Dr. Dre or about the low-lifes at Samsung often generates five times as many responses/comments as this does.

 

Ugh.

post #23 of 46

@HAMETA, it is unlikely Apple will buy a Battery Tech company. Since margin is low. Although Apple will likely partners with some companies and Fuel with cash.

post #24 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by RadarTheKat View Post


Funny, I miss Richard Feynman.

 

Another one of my role models lol

post #25 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


Did he really fire somebody in an elevator or is that an urban myth?

 

I wouldn't doubt it. The guy did question Steve's integrity.

 

Both times I met him we were in the elevator. The first time the elevator door was practically closed and I was rushing to get to my office because I was running late and he opened the door - just he and I. Asked me what I did for the company, I guess that was his standard question to new faces. The second time he remembered my name and we discussed Monsters Inc. which was in development at the time.

post #26 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post
 

@HAMETA, it is unlikely Apple will buy a Battery Tech company. Since margin is low. Although Apple will likely partners with some companies and Fuel with cash.

 

 

O.K.

 

I Just Said in Case Giggle or Shamesung Shoves in Its Oar Again, LOL.


Edited by HAMETA - 5/22/14 at 8:51pm
post #27 of 46
Steve is like Michael Jackson to me.
post #28 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Steve is like Michael Jackson to me.

 

I just hope that we don't see Steve Jobs appearing as a hologram at any Apple event anytime soon.

 

I can hardly think of two more different people to compare than Steve Jobs and Michael Jackson.

 

What exactly do those two have in common?

 

Did they both like to moonwalk? Did they both have a strange fondness for little boys? Did they both constantly have an urge to touch their crotches? 

 

I actually like some of Michael Jackson's earlier songs, so I'm not trying to be a hater here, but I fail to see how the two are similar at all. They were both famous, that's about all that I can see.

post #29 of 46
Originally Posted by ksec View Post
@HAMETA, it is unlikely Apple will buy a Battery Tech company. Since margin is low. Although Apple will likely partners with some companies and Fuel with cash.

 

Hmm… I disagree. Apple’s big on battery tech. And anything they can’t create from scratch themselves they would have no problem buying.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #30 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by DESuserIGN View Post

The "other Steve?"
Who?

/s
You don't remember? Crazy guy, liked yelling and dancing...

Oh, hang on, someone posted a picture of him above:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

Ring any bells?
post #31 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Steve is like Michael Jackson to me.

 

The beer hunter or the pop star?


Edited by Feynman - 5/22/14 at 10:15pm
post #32 of 46
Great piece.
post #33 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

I wouldn't doubt it. The guy did question Steve's integrity.

Both times I met him we were in the elevator. The first time the elevator door was practically closed and I was rushing to get to my office because I was running late and he opened the door - just he and I. Asked me what I did for the company, I guess that was his standard question to new faces. The second time he remembered my name and we discussed Monsters Inc. which was in development at the time.

Steve jobs could really remember names. And faces.
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
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I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
post #34 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by RadarTheKat View Post


Funny, I miss Richard Feynman.

I miss George Fenneman.

post #35 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

I wouldn't doubt it. The guy did question Steve's integrity.

Both times I met him we were in the elevator. The first time the elevator door was practically closed and I was rushing to get to my office because I was running late and he opened the door - just he and I. Asked me what I did for the company, I guess that was his standard question to new faces. The second time he remembered my name and we discussed Monsters Inc. which was in development at the time.
That's so cool. Where I work you'd be lucky to get an executive at that level to even say hello to you.
post #36 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aegean View Post

...companies need to make tough decisions, and that only Steve had guts to make. I personally did like his low tolerance behaviour when it comes to sacrificing on quality of Apple's product.

 

Do you not think Tim Cook has demonstrated the guts to make tough decisions or a low tolerance for sacrificing quality?

 

  • Dumping Google Maps (messy but necessary)
  • Firing Scott Forstall (no doubt a tough call, but again I think it was necessary)
  • iOS7 Redesign (not universally loved, but then neither was the first version of OS X)

 

The most visible change since Steve's passing, I think, is noticeable during Apple's keynote presentations. I think Cook and other executive team members are doing a fine job when announcing and presenting new products, but Steve's unique stage presence is a tough act to follow.

 

Steve Jobs cannot be "replaced" but I think the company is doing well in his absence. The struggles they face today and the way in which they're handling them do not seem all that different from when Steve was around.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anome View Post

You don't remember? Crazy guy, liked yelling and dancing...
 

 

Don't forget chair throwing and sweating.


Edited by freediverx - 5/23/14 at 4:47am
post #37 of 46
There will never be another Steve.
Apple will never be the same without Steve.
 
Where's the new Apple TV?
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Where's the new Apple TV?
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post #38 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by pazuzu View Post

There will never be another Steve.
Apple will never be the same without Steve.

 

While both of those statements are technically true, I disagree with the underlying sentiment that seems to suggest Apple is lost without Steve. I think one of Steve's greatest legacies is the culture he created at Apple. That may change some day, but I see no sign of that happening so far.

post #39 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


That's so cool. Where I work you'd be lucky to get an executive at that level to even say hello to you.

 

That sucks. I think executives should be within some kind of reach, whether or not it is just to be able to see them or actually email them at any time. Of course there are the proper channels you go through first but management should be open doors at all times.

 

I took the elevator just so I could try to meet him lol My colleagues thought I was crazy and they always took the stairs to avoid him! ha! I was much younger than and the memory was like yesterday. I ran to my office repeatedly saying "I just met Steve Jobs" and when I finally reached my office I called my mother first and was like "you'll never believe who I just met!" "Steve Jobs?" was her response lol Then I called my father "oh my god guess who I..." "Steve Jobs?" lol 

post #40 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by freediverx View Post
 

 

Do you not think Tim Cook has demonstrated the guts to make tough decisions or a low tolerance for sacrificing quality?

 

 

 

Tim has yet to prove that he is the right replacement of Steve. And it might take years. I don't want Apple to become just another mobile phone company and only to be remembered as an iPhone maker.

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