Creative Selection

Weekly I/O#65

How Apple develops products? A chain of demos and feedback continuously evolves an idea towards a product. No brainstorming session and no whiteboard discussion.

Book: Creative Selection

Creative selection, defined by author Ken Kocienda, is a continuous process of creating demos, receiving specific feedback, and generating subsequent demos. Akin to the concept of Darwinian evolution, This iterative approach helps eliminate ineffective demos and features through feedback, gradually refining an idea towards a final product.

Every major feature on the iPhone started as a demo. The way they built products can be reduced to a basic idea: they showed demos to each other. The demo must be concrete and specific because even an unsophisticated idea can be hard to discuss constructively without a tangible representation.

However, making demos is hard. You are likely to fail. The fear of investing time and effort into an idea you aren't sure is right can be daunting. On the other hand, the idea of a casual brainstorming session over coffee may seem better.

Without the psychological barrier of failure, whiteboard discussion feels good and easy. Whiteboard discussions give the impression of being productive, but they often fall short because abstract ideas are challenging to discuss effectively. For instance, think of a cute cat. Picture one as detailed as possible in your brain. Can we discuss whether the cat in your brain or the one in mine is cuter? Can we convince our boss or our customers whose cat is more adorable? There is no way to resolve this conflict. However, if we show pictures of our cats, we can easily discuss each option's merits.

Concrete and specific examples are so important because they make difficult, perhaps impossible, discussions easy. Demos elicit reactions, which are essential in providing the impetus to transform an idea from the intangible to the tangible.

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