I have recently read articles about how two well-known software companies conduct their design and development processes. A mixed bag of ideas — just like product design itself — but the overall message is that the companies are innovative and open-minded in their approach to development, while still keeping a tight control over quality and standards. We’re talking about Apple and Google.
From the Techbeat, a blog for Business Week, an article about ‘Apple’s design process‘:
“Interesting presentation at SXSW from Michael Lopp, senior engineering manager at Apple, who tried to assess how Apple can ‘get’ design when so many other companies try and fail. After describing Apple’s process of delivering consumers with a succession of presents (“really good ideas wrapped up in other really good ideas” — in other words, great software in fabulous hardware in beautiful packaging), he asked the question many have asked in their time: “How the f*ck do you do that?””
This article summarizes an Apple product manager’s speech how Apple’s careful but open-minded development process churns out great products. I enjoyed reading the manager’s points, especially one about Paired Design Meetings, but was disappointed that many of the reader comments were silly and even a little bitter. I don’t like some of Apple’s policies but the company certainly deserves praise for their ability to rethink electronic product design.
From the New York Times, an article about ‘How Google Decides to Pull the Plug‘:
“GOOGLE recently set the blogosphere abuzz by announcing that it was pulling the plug on several products… “There’s no single equation that describes us, but we try to use data wherever possible,” said Jeff Huber, the company’s senior vice president of engineering. “What products have found an audience? Which ones are growing?” All of the shuttered projects failed several of Google’s key tests for continued incubation: They were not especially popular with customers; they had difficulty attracting Google employees to develop them; they didn’t solve a big enough problem; or they failed to achieve internal performance targets known as “objectives and key results.”
The emphasis of this article is that Google knows when to stop product development. This reminds me of something that our company, Digital Anarchy, tries to do. We call it ‘don’t throw good money after bad’ when an idea doesn’t seem to be working. We didn’t come up this approach, of course. But the lesson over time has been to eat the cost of a project that’s not working, rather than continuing to push out something that ultimately is not at all what we envisioned. And that is hard to do!
Side note: Interesting image that was generated when I saved out the Google logo from Google.com. First time I have googled Google.