Saturday, May 31, 2014

Moments of Conception 010 -- The Ives Scene from Steve Jobs

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the design scene in Jobs:



So, what did they do right?

Let your why drive. Apple stood for taste, humanity, heart and design. But somewhere along the way, somewhere in the bloated space between the cubicle farms and copy machines and shareholder meetings, that original vision got lost. Jobs realized his company wasn’t a garage anymore. That’s why he asked his team the crucial question. Why are you still here? He understood that what we create is just as important as why we create it. That the depth of meaning connected to the idea is just as important as the idea itself. Armed with that vision, that running imperative, that underlying nobility, the design team took on a new posture in their work. Ive’s result was the iMac, a product that paved the way for many other designs including the iPod, which changed the way we listen to music; the iPhone, which changed the way we live and communicate; and the iPad, which changed the way we work and learn. All because they remembered why.

Creativity is a function of caring. Jobs was a man on a mission. He cared more than anyone. That was his ideal. That was the objective definition of his values. That was the hallmark of his passionate craftsmanship. And he personally embraced and internalized it to the highest order. Jobs famously commented in his bestselling postmortem biography, “The idealistic wind of the sixties is still at my back, and most of the people I know who are my age have that ingrained in them forever.” Unfortunately, nobody changes the world by caring in a corner. Values aren’t taught, they’re caught. And so, when Jobs returned to the company as de facto chief in the late nineties, he started putting some calories behind his caring. He walked the factory floors, infected his team with his vision, and together they gave visual expression to his sense of life. Proving, that when sheer obsessive caring about what you do drives you, there’s no ceiling on what you can create.

Restructure the system around constraints. In one of my favorite books, The Art of Looking Sideways, famed visual designer Alan Fletcher wrote that the first move in any creative process is to introduce constraints. And not just lines and borders and shapes and colors and physical space and time, but also conceptual constraints. In this scene, Jobs tells his team to forget about whatever they’re working on. To design something new. Something useful. Something they cared about. Even if it’s technology. That was the constraint. The catapult that set them free. Their job was to chase the ugliness away. And what was the result? Packaging became theater. Computers became friendly. Technology became nondisposable. Innovation became human. Customers became evangelists. Apple became iconic. Jobs became immortal.

What's your favorite movie moment of conception?