Christmas reading // Episode 1: Creative Selection

Christmas reading // Episode 1: Creative Selection

I've got a bunch of free time, and I'm probably going to make a couple of posts on my recent readings.

This is one is going to be about...

Creative Selection

What's this "Creative Selection" in the title

Creative Selection is really a fancy way to describe the iterative process: loops upon loops of demos, feedback, iteration work, and repeat.

It is a metaphor around Darwin's natural selection: in this case some "traits" (the good ones) survive (were selected) into the next generation (iteration) of creative work.

What's the book about

The book is about product development at Apple from the perspective of an engineer, first on Safari 1.0, then the first iPhone and first iPad keyboards. Good demos, bad demos, exciting times really transpires from the pages. The bulk of the book is about the iPhone's keyboard, and all of its iterations from "we are not going to make it" to the final shipped product.

There's some more "philosophical" part about product development at Apple at the end. I'm sure the author cared a lot about this part of the book, but I didn't enjoy it as much.

What's my favourite highlight/key takeaway

From a practical standpoint, it's definitely the last part of the second chapter, "The Crystal Ball". At some point the character of Richard is introduced.

The pragmatic programmer

The author was stuck on something for 6 weeks. Then Richard Williamson enters the scenes, immediately mark the author's direction direction as lacking potential due to the slow progress so far, decides to go through another route and most importantly cuts as many corners as possible, with the sole goal to putting together a demo in 2 days.

The key there were the shortcuts: he drew a conceptual ring around the key details and tried very hard to ignore everything outside. Laser focus to minimise distractions (reminded me of Warren Buffett's TONOTDO list ).

The goal was a demo, and he used some tricks to make the deadline he self-imposed.

A demo's goal is to be convincing enough to explore an idea, to communicate a step forward in making a product. Some of the details were quite bad: it didn't matter (assuming you noticed at all) because they were outside the key details' conceptual ring.

Favourite quote

[Meetings] can devolve into a form of sneaky procrastination. Whiteboard discussions feel like work but often they're not, since it's too difficult to talk productively about ideas in the abstract.