Si vous avez un peu de temps à tuer, je vous invite à lire sur Cult of Mac l’interview fleuve de John Sculley qui fut le CEO d’Apple de 1983 à 1993. Il y parle exclusivement de Steve Jobs et de ce qui a fait son succès à la tête de la firme de Cupertino: design, expérience utilisateur, marketing, ingénierie, etc…
Pour la petite histoire et pour bien mettre en perspective cette interview, c’est Jobs qui, en 1983, est allé chercher John Sculley, alors patron de Pepsi, avec la célèbre phrase: « Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world? » avant d’être débarqué par ce dernier en 1985. Presque 12 ans plus tard, et alors qu’Apple est au bord du gouffre, la firme rachète NeXT dont le CEO n’est autre que Steve Jobs himself. Il reprend alors les rênes de la société et lance en 1998 l’iMac dont le succès incontestable signe la renaissance d’Apple…
A lire entièrement, bien entendu, mais je ne résiste pas au plaisir d’en livrer ici quelques extraits. J’aime particulièrement ce passage concernant le minimalisme, qui est le truc qui m’anime en ce moment, vous l’aviez remarqué…
What makes Steve’s methodology different from everyone else’s is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do – but the things that you decide not to do. He’s a minimalist.
Et plus loin:
He’s a minimalist and constantly reducing things to their simplest level. It’s not simplistic. It’s simplified. Steve is a systems designer. He simplifies complexity.
On ne peut pas non plus rater cet extrait sur Sony, l’importance de l’ingénierie et l’admiration de Jobs pour la firme japonaise à ses débuts.
The one that Steve admired was Sony. We used to go visit Akio Morita and he had really the same kind of high-end standards that Steve did and respect for beautiful products. I remember Akio Morita gave Steve and me each one of the first Sony Walkmans. None of us had ever seen anything like that before because there had never been a product like that. This is 25 years ago and Steve was fascinated by it. The first thing he did with his was take it apart and he looked at every single part. How the fit and finish was done, how it was built.
Avec la conclusion de cette attention pour les beaux objets et le soucis du design quelques questions plus loin:
Because Steve’s design methodology was so correct even 25 years ago he was able to make a design methodology – his first principles — of user experience, focus on just a few things, look at the system, never compromise, compare yourself not to other electronic products but compare yourself to the finest pieces of jewelry — all those criteria — no one else was thinking about that. Everyone else was just going through an evolution of cheap products that are getting more powerful and cheaper to build. Like the MP3 player. Remember when he came in with the iPod, there were thousands of MP3 players out there. Can anyone else remember any of the others?
Quelques anecdotes croustillantes qui illustrent bien le fameux slogan « Think Different » qui a longtemps orné le logo d’Apple:
An anecdotal story, a friend of mine was at meetings at Apple and Microsoft on the same day and this was in the last year, so this was recently. He went into the Apple meeting (he’s a vendor for Apple) and when he went into the meeting at Apple as soon as the designers walked in the room, everyone stopped talking because the designers are the most respected people in the organization. Everyone knows the designers speak for Steve because they have direct reporting to him. It is only at Apple where design reports directly to the CEO.
Later in the day he was at Microsoft. When he went into the Microsoft meeting, everybody was talking and then the meeting starts and no designers ever walk into the room. All the technical people are sitting there trying to add their ideas of what ought to be in the design. That’s a recipe for disaster.
A propos de Microsoft, d’ailleurs, Sculley se lache un peu plus loin, en parlant du Zune (mais je trouve que la métaphore pourrait s’appliquer à Windows Phone 7):
Take the Microsoft Zune. I remember going to CES when Microsoft launched Zune and it was literally so boring that people didn‘t even go over to look at it… The Zunes were just dead. It was like someone had just put aging vegetables into a supermarket.
Et sur la publicité, une lucidité de la part de l’ancien patron de Pepsi, connu pour être à l’origine de pubs novatrices (mais si, souvenez vous « Pepsi generation ») :
But great advertising comes from great clients. The best creative people want to work for the best clients. If you are a client who doesn’t appreciate great work, or a client who won’t take risks and try new stuff, or a client who can’t get excited about the creative, then you’re the wrong kind of client.
Most big companies delegate it way down in the organization. The CEO rarely knows anything about the advertising except when it’s presented, when it’s all done. That’s not how we did it at Pepsi, not how we did it at Apple, and I’m sure it’s not how Steve does it now. He always adamantly involved in the advertising, the design and everything.
Sculley y avoue aussi ses erreurs stratégiques pendant sa direction, comme le choix des PowerPC d’IBM au lieu des processeurs Intel:
So Intel lobbied heavily to get us to stay with them… (but) we went with IBM and Motorola with the PowerPC. And that was a terrible decision in hindsight. If we could have worked with Intel, we would have gotten onto a more commoditized component platform for Apple, which would have made a huge difference for Apple during the 1990s. In the 1990s, the processors were getting powerful enough that you could run all of your technology and software, and that’s when Microsoft took off with their Windows 3.1.
Que l’on aime ou pas la marque à la pomme, Steve Jobs et leurs produits, c’est worth a read. Passionnant!