This reminds me of something that I heard Steve Jobs say in, “Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview.” I believe it’s still on Netflix right now, at least that is where I watched it. Anyways, Steve Jobs said,
“People get confused, companies get confused. When they start getting bigger, they want to replicate their initial success and a lot of them think there is somehow… There is this magic in the process of how that success was created. So they start to try and institutionalize process across the company. And before very long, people start to get confused that the process is the content. That’s ultimately the downfall to IBM. IBM has the best process people in the world. They just forgot about the content. That happened a little bit at Apple. We had a lot of people who were great at management process. They just didn’t have a clue of the content. And in my career I found that the best people, you know, are the ones that really understand the content. And they’re a pain in the butt to manage, but you put up with it because they are so great at the content. And that’s what makes great products. It’s not the process, it’s the content.”
That’s my same problem with buying into a “process.” Then getting caught up into believing that the process is what breeds the magical success behind great products. I feel like we are missing out on the actual magic, and that there isn’t some golden formula to success. Instead it’s about trying new things and taking risks and being bold. It’s allowing serendipitous things to take place.
In that same interview Steve Jobs went on to say…
“You know, one of the things that really hurt Apple was after I left John Sculley got a very serious disease. It’s the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90% of the work. And if you just tell all these other people ‘here’s this great idea,’ then of course they can go off and make it happen.”
“And the problem with that is that there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do. Or factories do. Or robots do. And as you get into all these things, designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and 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.”
Yet… That process seems to be much more elastic. It’s more similar to embracing the now and living in the moment. Learning and evolving as you go, all the while staying open to being wrong and open to change. This to me falls more in line with the methodologies and philosophies of “The Lean Start-up.”