11 Business Lessons From iPod Father Tony Fadel

On tour to promote his latest book, ‘Build,’ Former Apple executive and iPod designer Tony Fadel talks technically CNBC. There are a number of tidbits for Apple History fans in the conversation, but Fadel also shared great advice for anyone in enterprise technology.

What was said was a small push.

When creating products, think about why

“You have to be able to tell the ‘why’ story,” Fadel said.

When designing new products, it is important that what is created meets the needs of the customer, solves existing problems or enhances what they can do. Not only that, the development of good products does not stop What?But extended WhyExplain the product and create a description that relates to human life.

Think about how effective “1,000 songs in your pocket” was as an iPod slogan.

The product story has to be fair

Your customers are discreet. If you say that a product can achieve something amazing, you will most certainly make sure that it survives as demanded.

As with any story, the audience is apologetic and if you make a promise that you do not deliver, they will not readily agree to return. “You must deliver. This is not a myth. Excessive marketing is a myth. “

Summary from the beginning

Some time ago, an agenda written by Steve Jobs was published online. In a few lines, it summarizes today’s familiar ideas, but not then. There was a job description before the development was completed.

“A lot of people wait until the end [of a project]”To summarize what a product does and why it’s important,” said Fidel.

He argues that it’s important to know where you’re trying to go in the beginning, “People don’t film the movie and then go,‘ Oh, here’s the script now and here’s how we sell it, ’” he said. “They come up with a story early on.”

But see “Ready for Change” below.

Technology is not for geeks

The only difference between the iPod and MP3 players at the time was that the latter used off-the-shelf components and somewhat targeted the audience. Apple realized that while most people liked music, most of those who did did not have a particular Ziki – they wanted a smoother user experience.

There was and still is a lesson in product design, finding out who the audience is, what they need, and combining the elements to create an experience where technology goes out of its way to meet those needs. This is a user experience design lesson that is as important to any device enterprise as it is to consumer devices.

Sometimes the best products are born when designers look for ways to solve the pain, as Fidel argues that he could achieve with a nest thermostat.

This is why digital transformation leaders need to talk to people in the front row so that solutions make friction easier, rather than adding to it. Shadow IT is usually a cry for help.

But be prepared for change

Steve Jobs first opposed the idea of ​​providing Windows support for the iPod. He wanted the device and Apple’s retail stores to persuade people to switch to Mac. That didn’t happen fast enough at the time, and Apple’s data shows that Windows users didn’t have the cash to use the Mac when they chose the iPod.

“It was a harsh reality,” Fidel said.

A chat with Walt Mossberg, a data and technology correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, eventually persuaded Jobs to calm down.

Takeaway? If your plan doesn’t work, or if it doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to change course. A good decision based on evidence is still a good decision. “You have to embrace it …, go ahead and adapt to what you see.” Story lines must always be flexible and respond to change.

Make a mistake

It takes leadership to make mistakes and to correct. Sometimes you will only learn through shipping and customer feedback. Fadel says it sometimes takes three versions to get it right. The first iteration of any product will mostly reflect the opinions of those who made it, but will later change to the bottom of the line to reflect real-world data.

“Many companies have a crisis of confidence because they try to get data for something that doesn’t exist,” Fadel said. These companies stick to the opinion, but don’t get it right. Change is good.

Another problem is that you can’t make decisions based on preliminary opinion, as good as the committee. “Opinion-based decisions cannot be a huge group of people, because you have reached a minimum common denominator.” Which can obscure the story.

Competitors will always make fun of you first and then, most likely, you will win. But not always – even the job had an iPod HiFi and G4 Cube. “Your heroes are human too.”

Don’t forget to send

Fadel shared some of his experiences with other companies, when teams became so focused on product development that shipping dates were constantly delayed. “It has become an endless quest without shipping to get feedback from customers,” he said. “You have to [have] The limitation is that you can ship within a certain period of time so that you can keep the team together and motivated. “

Once in the product world, the team can certainly do the right thing.

Don’t forget to raise

Reading in line, it seemed that Fadel had crossed at least one stage when he wanted more money and more purpose.

“You get other people’s shoes and start to be really sympathetic and realize that not everyone is made like you …, really trying to understand how to communicate, not in your language, in their language – what resonates with them, isn’t it?” ? “

Hold on to how people who aren’t you make better decisions.

“You need to get out of your space and enter their space without losing yourself and be able to bring it back and use those insights to help you do better,” he said.

Reach out to people.

3 more things

There are many more in the interview, but three stand out to me:

  • “Our job is to communicate technology and provide it in such a way that we bring superpowers to people, without being afraid of them.”
  • To illustrate what Fidel’s most important thing is, and what every business leader should think about at this time: We need to change, because that is what we need to do to overcome this crisis of existence. “
  • “If you don’t fail, you’re not trying hard enough … you’re not going to innovate and you’re not going to keep your company fresh.”

You can Watch the full interview here. Fadel’s new book is now available.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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