Apple is a company that almost always gets a product right and they have become famous by the design of their products. Apple sacrifices nothing for design and it is obvious that aesthetics is always at the top of their priorities. Just how does Apple accomplish great design again and again?
While it is obvious the fruit company has some great designers, it has more to do with the company’s culture. In a recent interview with Tony Fadell, the CEO of Nest and a former designer at Apple who led the development of the first 18 iterations of the iPhone, reveals why Apple is able to nail design again and again.
Fadell first starts off with an example from when he worked at Philips. Surprisingly at Philips over 90% of the company’s products never saw the light of day. Fadell said “nine times out of ten, or 99 times out of 100, they would kill the project, either at the beginning, the middle or right before the product was supposed to be shipped.” Apparently this had largely to do with not everyone being in the loop about what projects were going on, which lead to a lack of understanding of the product at large when management changed over.
This type of culture has some serious negative effects, “such a culture means that designers don’t do their best work and just go through the motions of creating a product. Why put your best work into a project that is just going to be tossed in the dustbin?,” explains Fadell.
This is where the culture over at Cupertino differs. Almost all of Apple’s projects that make it past a certain milestone are shipped because everyone had a point of view, a story to tell and a specific customer envisioned for the product.
In contrast, at Apple, 99 percent of projects that made it past certain milestones shipped, said Fadell. All of the workers at Apple — from the management to the designers to the marketers — had a point of view, a story to tell, and a specific customer envisioned for the product. If management changed, everyone is still on the same page. “When you’re in a culture that has a point of view, and drives to launch everything it does, you know you’re on the hook and you better bring your best game every time,” said Fadell.
The bottom line is, Apple’s designers and entire workforce knows that they must strive for excellence every single project because it has an extremely high chance of hitting retail shelves.