I used to have a habit of watching TV shows and playing video games at the same time. Now I’ve managed to change that to watching online talks and presentations while playing video games instead – still procrastination, but better procrastination? While playing an intensive game of Dota 2, I started watching Guy Kawasaki’s ”12 Lessons Steve Jobs Taught Guy Kawasaki”. This talk was so good that I forfeited my Dota game so that I could take notes. For those of you who don’t know, Guy Kawasaki was Apple’s Chief Evangalist. I actually had to look up what that meant; it’s basically someone that works with gathering support for the company, in this case from developers. Watch it here and then come back to read how I applied that to my recent work.
1. People don’t know what they want
I would have never had the guts to say this, but even in my experience, this holds almost all the time. People generally only want the status quo, but better, faster, and cheaper. I’ve worked on projects in the past where we’ve had focus groups and it’s the same thing everytime; the just want the status quo, but better, faster, and cheaper.
I think what Guy communicates so well is that a project should be leaping curves. I love the ice manufacturing example. Whether it’s a company, an organisation, a fundraiser, a book, or whatever, it has to leap curves and be not 10% better but 10x better than what’s out there. It’s not fun to do something that someone else is already doing but 10% better or cheaper or faster. 10x better. That’s what I’m going to aim for from now on.
2. Work or doesn’t work is all that matters
I just love this one. The moment I heard this, I just had to go write it down in my notebook for a meeting I had in the afternoon. Guy uses the example of the App Store; at first Steve Jobs didn’t want an app store to protect iPhone users from bad apps, which was a “feature” at launch. Then 6 months later, they announced the App Store, and this suddenly became a new “feature”. It doesn’t matter what decision you made before, or why you made them. If it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work, and you have to fix it. When we relaunched Medicor (student union magazine) this term, we spent hours discussing how we were going to distribute the magazine. It’s always been sent out to all the members by post, which is also what we ended up doing, but spending half of our quarterly budget on just distribution seemed silly. Especially now that we’ve been unexpectedly ambitious and filled over 40 pages (Medicor used to be around 20 pages), and as a result had at least the same increase in expenditures, something just wasn’t working. Instead of worrying about the costs, we decided that we were going to do the best that we could to make a magazine that we would want to read ourselves, and hope that other’s would feel the same. We started charging twice as much for ads (which is funnily enough more than Karolinska Institutet’s professional magazine), which actually resulted in more sold ads. Something wasn’t working, and you have to fix it.
3. You have to believe something to see it
You read that right. Not the other way around. You have to believe it to see it. There were times during the development of Medicor that I was starting to lose patience. But then I started making mock-ups of the final magazine. I think that made a big difference in regards of motivating the team. I actually started making mock-ups of the front cover several months before the release of the issue. It’s kind of like Santa Clause, you have to believe in it to get to see it.
4. Design matters
Design is utility. If something looks better, people will want to use it more. It’s that simple. I think slowly everyone is starting to get this. People should spend just as much time on the design as on the content of their product. For the latest issue of Medicor, we’ve put so much energy and time into making the magazine look good. Everything from arranging studio lighting equipment for conferences, to spending countless sleepless nights on micro-adjustments of margins and font sizes. In fact, we spent almost 10 hours just picking the right font for the body text. I hope that we’ve created an aesthetic that people like. The point here though, is that a lot more people should spend a lot more time on their design. There are a lot of big websites out there that look horrendous. Not everyone is meant to be a designer. But that shouldn’t stop you from hiring one.
I have been studying 12 hours today so everything might not really make sense. Nevertheless, I hope that you enjoyed Guy’s talk.