How Apple understand both ‘art’ and ‘science’


Applestore bibleIt was always said that Jazz could be described as ‘a loose kind of tightness and a tight kind of looseness’.

That’s a really good description of how creativity works.

It’s the mix of art and science, logic and chaos, restriction and freedom, opening out and closing down and of course of ‘left’ and ‘right-brain’ working together.

And yet our world is polarised into two halves. We’re told and schooled and trained to be one thing or the other. The classic example is we’re forced to choose between being a scientist or an artist way early in our education. The system assumes that they are mutually exclusive and that you cannot be both.

The problem we have is that the great scientists, in all fields of physics, chemistry and biology, those that made the big discoveries, were also artists.

By the same token, the great artists and designers had to have an understanding of science.

Here are some simple definitions:*

Science = an understanding of the natural world, how it works and being able to describe it.

Art = doing something with that understanding.

Science = knowing how to make changes

Art = making changes

Let’s have a look at how this art/science paradox works in one of our favourite companies; Apple.

Let’s think about what they are known for, loved for and hated for (no-one is ambivalent when it comes to Apple)

• Gorgeous cutting edge design (of the products, the packaging and the marketing materials)

• A focus on creative lifestyle activities: music, design and film.

• They create a ‘togetherness’, a club (or cult), of like-minded creatives, geniuses, fun, coolness.

But there’s more:

• Their products are expensive and exclusive.

• They operate in a closed system of their own making.

• Users have to surrender other freedoms to fully enter their ecosphere.

All of those points are true you can use them to add to your own beliefs, depending of what’s important to you, as to whether you hate or love the company.

But whatever we think, one thing remains, Apple is the most valuable company in the world.

Whether you refuse to buy an iPhone, one thing remains, Apple is the most valuable company in the world.

If you baulk at iTunes’ grip on the music industry, one thing remains, Apple is still the most valuable company in the world.

They were also recently voted the UK’s most ‘cool’ brand.

There’s no getting away from it.

So we need to ask ourselves, how did they do that? Is there anything we can learn?

The one thing that I’ve noticed is that they employ a loose kind of tightness and a tight kind of looseness – at the same time. We all think they’re arty and cool and yet their business acumen is more solid than anyone on Earth. We all think that amazing design is the big acumen and the ease-of-use that results from it gives us freedom to create and yet they control our thoughts.

There’s the story that Steve Jobs dropped the prototype iPod into a fish tank to see if tiny bubbles would come out from the device (they did). If there was air in the device, there was space and if there was space there was an opportunity to make the device smaller.

There’s the story of the room full of prototype iPhone boxes, all slightly different designs, so they could find exactly the right kind of user unboxing experience. If you’ve ever opened a new iPhone you’ll know they got it right. Can you think of many other companies that go to that level of control of the consumer experience?

Applestore employees are given a training handbook which has a section on ‘Getting to yes’ by controlling the language the employees use when talking to customers. Some of the most interesting, and revealing are shown in he photo below. Look at the heading ‘Do Not Use’. This is not a manual of suggestions, these are commandments.

So instead of ‘bomb’ or ‘crash’ they have to say ‘unexpectedly quits’ or ‘does not respond’. Instead of software ‘bug’ they have to say ‘condition’.

Fanatical control over your business is good. Looking at the big picture and encouraging artistic freedom is good. The real trick is to have them both at the same time.

That’s what Apple does.

That’s creativity.

That’s Jazz.

(* other definitions are available)

Ayd works with people and businesses to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

For more interesting info see: www.aydinstone.com

Don’t be modest or ashamed – always vote for your own brand


Ayd Instone and Joel Roberts

Ayd Instone and Joel Roberts

I was an attendee (and sponsor) of The Business Wealth Club networking group Open Day in Oxford last week. 150 business owners had gathered to see Joel Roberts, one of America’s top media coaches, give a talk about how to sell and present yourself to an audience.

To start the event and to have something to discuss over breakfast, our host Dave Griffin said we should all get out business cards out and vote on our tables for the best one. These will then be passed to the front and Joel will choose his favourite from those 15.

Business cards were distributed to everyone on our table and we held up our favourite. I help up my own. All but one other of the ten people held up mine too. One lady said, “but you’ve voted for your own?”. “Of course” I said. “I’m voting for the best one.” She then put mine down and held up her own. I still won of course by 8 votes to 2.

What would you do in a similar situation? Assuming there’s not an amazingly good card around like mine, would you hold up your own? If not, why not?

Are you too modest to vote for your own brand? If you feel unable to push forward your own marketing materials without feeling a bit immodest you clearly haven’t externalised your business brand: we need to talk.

Are you too ashamed to hold up your cheap, flimsy embarrassing cards that you’ve invested not time and effort in or that still has the old logo on, or are those free ones with the generic stock image every plumber uses? If so we REALLY need to talk.

You wouldn’t go out to a business meeting to see potential clients in a big bag, or still dressed in your pyjamas so why send your business’s brand out there dressed as a buffoon?

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.aydinstone.com