The Shape of Things

Contribution by Caring Jony Ive
Like many in the last week I have read the extensive profile on Jonathan Ive by The New Yorker#. The article highlights two aspects of the creative process that are important to me:

  1. building through craft and the idea of body of work
  2. partnering with a like-mind that has complementary skills

When we play that game about what other profession or craft we would choose given the chance to go back in time, I have no hesitation in saying industrial design. Because it marries the opportunity to create experiences with my love for building things — thinking and tinkering.

The article references Ive's relationship with the late Jobs:

Jobs and Ive had an intense first meeting. Ive said, “I can’t really remember that happening really ever before, meeting somebody when it’s just like that”—he snapped his fingers. “It was the most bizarre thing, where we were both perhaps a little—a little bit odd. We weren’t used to clicking.”

I understand how that feels and it is the most rare of experiences. Further down, about feedback:

Jobs’s taste for merciless criticism was notorious; Ive recalled that, years ago, after seeing colleagues crushed, he protested. Jobs replied, “Why would you be vague?,” arguing that ambiguity was a form of selfishness: “You don’t care about how they feel! You’re being vain, you want them to like you.” Ive was furious, but came to agree. “It’s really demeaning to think that, in this deep desire to be liked, you’ve compromised giving clear, unambiguous feedback,” he said. He lamented that there were “so many anecdotes” about Jobs’s acerbity: “His intention, and motivation, wasn’t to be hurtful.”

Reminds me that providing specific feedback is difficult for a variety of reasons, including our desire to be liked. Yet, when I think about the most productive years in my career, I was working with a team and in an organization that were not afraid to be detailed and hard on the issues.


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