You need to really master complexity in order to build simple things

Great insight from the BusinessWeek interview with Jonathan Ive and Craig Federighi:

You have to master complexity to make things uncomplicated.

Federighi: I think that’s a unique talent among folks here. If you think about it, so many of the people here are so capable of dealing with complexity, so capable of operating complex tools that something could be simple, or at least workable in their eyes because of their capabilities, but that wouldn’t be very appropriate for the average person. And yet our best people, despite their own facility for navigating complexity, also have a natural gravitational pull toward simplicity and understanding what’s intuitive and continually returning to those solutions.

Ive: It’s also good that we have team members who are also not good at dealing with complexity. [LAUGHTER] I’m just saying.

This, right there, is probably the most underrated skill in the whole field of software development (and probably in the product development profession at large).

It is just so easy for people who need to master the intricacies of software development to see something as simple enough to use, when in truth it's just not up to par with the expectations of most users. In order to build a great product, you have to be a domain expert. There are so many assumptions that you'll be making that it's easy to forget about the wider picture. 

When you build a product you make a lot of assumptions about the state of the art of technology, the best business practices, and potential customer usage/behavior.  Any new product that is even little bit revolutionary makes these choices at an instinctual level–no matter what news stories you read about research or surveys or whatever, I think we all know that there’s a certain gut feeling that comes into play.

The mistake many people make is that they don't realize that they're holding all those assumptions for granted. They over-trust their gut feeling without fact-checking it with real world users. I've done it myself when working in product development. There's an easy tip-off: using the word "obvious". Once you hear yourself saying, "It's obvious that clicking on this button will trigger this action!", you know you're guilty. That's when you should rewind and ask yourself: is it really that simple?

Article: Disruption and woulda, coulda, shoulda

Great article by Steven Sinofsky, talking about the rise and fall of the Blackberry:

The point is really the breadth of changes the iPhone introduced to the Blackberry offering and roadmap. Some of these are assumptions about the technology, some about the business model, some about the ecosystem, some about physics even!

Imagine you’ve just changed the world and everything you did to change the world–your entire world view–has been changed by a new product. Now imagine that the new product is not universally applauded and many folks not only say your product is better and more useful, but that the new product is simply inferior.

Put yourself in those shoes…

This is especially interesting coming from one of the guys who were in charge of building an answer to Apple's new offering at Microsoft. I'd love to see the same article, but with inside info about what took place in the minds of Redmonders when the iPhone came around.

Personal driver services - the full article series

After trying out Uber and Djump, I've taken to Medium to write a shot series of articles on personal driver services:

The winner in the personal driver space will be the first company to achieve platform status.

What I meant by “winning"
Why I think the personal driver marketplace will be owned, not just led, by one single service.

If there is to be but one winner, what do they need to do in order to own the personal driver market?

One spot, three contenders: the race to become tomorrow’s leading personal driver service 
Three services are currently vying for the crown. Hailo is defensive, Uber is obsoletive while Lyft is disruptive. Who brought a knife to a gun fight?

I'll probably follow-up with a post on what I think about the experience of writing on Medium. In the meanwhile, I'm interested in your take about which service you think is more likely to go on to own the market - if any.

Article: Computers are too difficult and people are computer illiterate

Interesting article:

His point is that computers are very complex things, more complex than those of us familiar with them think they are. A person can be intelligent, highly specialised, well educated, and still not be interested in learning how to properly use a computer. Why should they? Computers are more complex than they have to be and the payoff for understanding that complexity is, for most people, very limited.

When you're working with technology all day long, it's very difficult to get yourself out of your pre-conceived ways and figure out how things look like from the perspective of most people. Computers are a black box for the majority of their users.

This is probably one of the biggest challenges facing software developers: making the conscious effort to put themselves in the shoes of people who don't think the same way as they do, nor possess the wealth of implicit and explicit knowledge about computers than they do.

It is therefore no surprise that the most successful products, especially consumer products, came from people who were able to use their extensive technology-related knowledge and skill and turn it into readily usable tools and objects.