The cover of Creative Selection

Creative Selection

Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs

by Ken Kocienda

Picked this up to do a book club at work. The premise is sound: Apple has consistently succeeded in launching new products (well, at least post-Newton) due to their unparalleled dedication to good design. By studying and replicating Apple’s design process, we should be able to replicate some part of their success.

In practice — and, not surprisingly to anyone who has worked in a design org — the “secret sauce” is not the process at all: it’s the people. And when we see the finished product, we only see what went right; the mistakes, inefficiencies, and costs associated with producing great design are all swept away before the product is sold.

Apple’s design process is one that only Apple can pull off: spend years developing products in complete isolation, in total secrecy, with the most talented designers and engineers money can buy wholly focused on delivering excellence. After reading the book, I see Apple’s success as coming despite their process — rigid, top-down critiques with Steve Jobs at the center of the universe — rather than because of it.