Prior to Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, there was a decent centralized usability team equipped with those fancy rooms with one-way mirrors and video cameras. I'm certain these folks did significant work, but when Jobs returned, he shut it down and he cast the design teams to the wind. Each product team inherited part of the former usability team.
Now, I arrived after this reorganization occurred, so I don't know the actual reasoning, but I do know I never saw those usability labs used once and I would argue that in the past decade Apple has created some of the most usable products out there. My opinion is that the choice to spread the usability design function across the engineering team was intended to send a clear message: engineer and designer need to party more… together.
I can't imagine building a team responsible for consumer products where engineers and designers weren't constantly meddling in each other's business. Yes, they often argue from completely opposite sides of the brain. Yes, it is often a battle of art and science, but engineering and design want exactly the same thing. They want the intense satisfaction of knowing they successfully built something that matters.
From the Web Log Rands in Repose, “A Design Primer for Engineers”, 01-16-2012
Copyright © 01-16-2012 by Rands
It wasn't God who introduced us to morality; rather, it was the other way around. God was put into place to help us live the way we felt we ought to.
From the Book The Bonobo and the Atheist, W. W. Norton & Company, 2013, ISBN 0393073777
What are we here for if not to enjoy life eternal, solve what problems we can, give light, peace and joy to our fellow-man, and leave this dear fucked-up planet a little healthier than when we were born.
From the Remarks Memo to Self, 1918
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first—rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.
From the Interview London Evening Standard, “Interview with Maureen Cleave”, 1966
To anyone who finds that linguistic study is a worthless finicking with trifles, I would reply that life consists of little things; the important matter is to see them largely.
From the Speech Retirement address, 1925
People get confused... companies get confused. When they start getting bigger they want to replicate their initial success. And a lot of them think, well somehow there's some magic in the process of how that success was created. So they start to try to institutionalize process across the company. And before very long, people get very confused that the process is the content. That's ultimately the downfall of IBM. IBM has the best process people in the world. They just forgot about the content. And that's a little what happened at Apple too [which led to the Apple Lisa, a market failure in the 1980s]. We had a lot of people who were great at management process, they just didn't have a clue as to the content. In my career, I've found that the best people are the ones that really understand the content — and they are a pain in the butt to manage, but you put up with it because they are so great at the content. That's what makes good products: it's not process, it's content.
From the Interview Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview
Wired: In your experience, what's the best process for design?
Brooks: Great design does not come from great processes; it comes from great designers.
From the Interview Wired Magazine, “Master Planner: Fred Brooks Shows How to Design Anything”, 07/28/2010
The final goal of any engineering activity is the some type of documentation. When a design effort is complete, the design documentation is turned over to the manufacturing team. This is a completely different group with completely different skills from the design team. If the design documents truly represent a complete design, the manufacturing team can proceed to build the product. In fact, they can proceed to build lots of the product, all without any further intervention of the designers. After reviewing the software development life cycle as I understood it, I concluded that the only software documentation that actually seems to satisfy the criteria of an engineering design is the source code listings.
From the Essay Code as Design, “What is Software Design?”, Developer.*, Fall 1992
Copyright © Fall 1992 by Jack W. Reeves
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man.
From the Book The World As I See It, 1949, ISBN 1599868245
As a new group leader, I was sent to Tsutsumi to spend a month getting an appreciation of working on the line and mastering one process. The team leaders told us no one would be able to complete the whole job by the end of the month, but I was determined to prove them wrong. I was installing liners underneath the wheel well when my air gun slipped, and the driver bit scratched the paint on the inner lip of the wheel well. I gasped and looked around — no one saw me do it — but they had told me to pull the andon (rope) cord if I made or caught any defect. It was my moment of truth. My first reaction was to let it go. No one would probably see the scratch anyway, and no one would know that I made it. But my conscience got the best of me, and I wanted to see if the really meant what they said about admitting mistakes. So I pulled the andon and the team leader came to fix the problem and showed me how to hold the bit with a free finger in order to stabilize it better: But he did not seem angry at me for making the scratch.
Then at break we gathered for our afternoon group meeting where the group leader gave out information on safety and quality issues and heard back concerns from the members.
They spoke Japanese so I could not understand what they were saying until I heard the words, “Mike-san.” Well that got my attention so I listened carefully...more Japanese and then “scratchee scratchee” ...and then more Japanese. So here it was; finally I was going to get called out for messing up and they were going to do it in front of everyone. Then, all of a sudden, the whole group looked at me and clapped and smiled and patted my back and shook my hand as they headed back to the line. I couldn't believe it, after double checking with an interpreter just to make sure, they were applauding me because I made a mistake and admitted it. I felt like a million bucks, and guess what I did the next time I made a mistake?
From the Book Toyota Culture: The Heart and Soul of The Toyota Way, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008, pages 27-28, ISBN 0071492178
Copyright © 2008 by McGraw-Hill