Jonathan Ive New Yorker interview

Rendering this in 4" text on the walls of my office on Monday. It’s incredibly great advice for the company I work for. (Myself included, of course)

There are different lifestyles for everyone. I found this article a fairly big waste of time and mostly uninspiring. Some of us are built for the startup rollercoaster, the 80 hour crunch weeks, the months spent in airport lobbies or Asian factories.

And some of us love design, but also understand that for some people work is a means to an end, that there are passions beyond design, children who they want to see grow up (or cats they want to play with), race cars to build, etc.

I think everyone who is a designer has done more then their fare share of these. But they should be the exception, not the norm. I just finished reading “Masters of Doom” which is great at describing the “death crunch”, bad project management, and the resulting burnout and destruction it can have on a small, ambitious teams made of smart and incredibly talented people.

There are people out there who don’t agree with this - their professional standing and title of the business card is the most important thing to them, and they’ll work themselves to the bone to get there. But after my years in this field I can tell you those people tend to burn out much earlier, suffer from health problems as a result of a 30 year caffeine bender, and tend not to have the family structures that those guys working 40 hours a week can manage.

A few of my former co workers left for Apple as engineers a few years ago, and I’ve heard it’s a brutal lifestyle.

Did a lot of research recently on NASA and some of the jet work that was done and the massive work done to get man on the moon and home again. The level of the work and the pressure had to have been one of the biggest design/engineering projects in history.

The sad part that they realized later was the drop in life expectancy, a significant number died at retirement age or shortly after. This was attributed to the relentless pressure of the job.

I can now imagine Cook pressuring Ive to bring a car to market with the same intensity and sense of purpose as Kennedy did those engineers. The key is the motivation and the sense of purpose.

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Keno: So true!

Cyberdemon: Masters of Doom - the book about the video game? Do you suggest it?

Also, I love startup culture, but I hate working more 40 hours. Somehow I fell into a startup where I can work 40 hours…life is good! :slight_smile:

Follows the 100/5/1 rule. For 100 ideas, sink resources into 5 of them, of the 5, 1 will launch, the other 4 will get killed.

At least that is how we operate. Our resources (people) are limited. The faster we kill something, the faster we can move onto the next idea and quit wasting resources on a bad idea.

The key to this process, and one I do my best at determining at the hiring process, is finding people who are not emotionally vested. Emotionally vested people will cling to a bad idea forever because they think if it fails, management will consider them a failure. That is the typical poor management of corporate life. The exceptions come from innovative companies who understand a bad idea isn’t a “failure”, it is just a bad idea.

I remember reading an article many years ago about Patrick Head (technical director for Williams F1) when he was first interviewing for the job, and Frank Williams asked him if he was willing to work nights and weekends. His answer was no, anyplace that required that must be terribly unorganized. Always stuck with me.

An expectation that people will regularly work 12 hour days under normal conditions is sociopathic, and counterproductive.

Wow. That Patrick Head quote is bang on.

Could it be part of the problem, that “designerly” types tend to be a lot less organized than the guys who major in business?
I have seen (and taken part of) in a fair set of whole night shifts. But never since I switched from “design” to “product management and marketing”…

One other thing. Design departments seem to have a lot of young talent on board. The percentage of staff without (enough)
experience might also add to chaotic time management?


mo-i: A friend of mine noted that at his consultancy the youngsters would work long hours, but also spend a considerable amount of time on Facebook or otherwise goofing off. When you actually have important stuff in your life, you cut the slacking off.

Tangentially related, I think creative types are more open to unorthodox work schedules that appear to others as long work hours. Raymond Loewy would work at night and leave notes on what should be changed by his employees the next day. Mind you, he lived next to his studio. Regular people might just hear, “Loewy worked at midnight everyday” and assume 16 hour days. Reality was that he wasn’t working at noon.

iab: I get emotionally involved, but the biggest bummer is putting in the effort to get a lemon to production, and then see it fail. I think the thing that effects me least is having a good idea killed early. I’ve finally started seeing how those real gems always come back around, so it’s better to play the long game on those.

I think it’s worth reading even if you don’t like or care about video games. A big part of it is on the cultural impact of the game itself, but the high level theme is what happened when you combined one of the worlds best engineers with one of the best designers, and then contrasting that to what happens when they broke apart and tried to lead a “purely design” or “purely technical” organization.

For anyone who remembers the infamously delayed, over budget, underwhelming game that was “Daikitana” (most don’t, because it was a commercial flop) it’s a perfect example of what happens when design runs away with grandiose visions and fails to marry them to business sense or technical feasibility.

Jobs was the guy who provided that balance to Jony Ive’s world of design, and ultimately until we declare the Apple watch a commercial success, there have not been any new “Catagories” of products from Apple since Jobs passed away - and only time will tell what that imbalance will bring.

I suppose I am disappointed too, but then there are so many things not in my control that can kill a project.

Barrier to competitive entry is not high enough
Total market potential is too low
Bad supply chain
Margins too low
Doesn’t fit call points
Too much competition
Sales force hates it

And those are just from the business case. Then there are technology, production and even design issues than can kill a project.

So in the end, life is too short to get upset by things out of my control. Especially when it is business and not personal. I’d rather move on and I like to be surrounded by those with a similar mindset.

Stupid APple question: anybody know what CAD software they use? Seems like only Autodesk supports Mac and I can’t imagine that they use PCs.

Looking at job offers on their site:

Must have experience with 3D CAD Tools: Solidworks, ProEngineer, etc. UG/NX preferred

Seems like they’re using Siemens NX which runs on the mac. I always find it amazing how many CAD tools are out there and how most of them are really quite good.

They are also using Alias extensively for the surfacing work - which is why you see the Apple Alias sculptor pop up every few months. They have dedicated surfacing guys much like the auto industry.

For engineering, NX.

Can confirm, I interviewed for a cad jockey position in their PD department. They were 90% interested in Alias; Pro-E was a plus.