where do the best ideas come from?

This is a great article on the origins of Pop Idol. It’s interesting enough given the TV format dynasty it’s spawned, but what really caught my eye was this line:

It was not the work of market research, he points out: “This was not the product of a strategy meeting, it was experience and instinct.”

While careful strategy and structured thinking is of course necessary, I believe that really good ideas spring forth unexpectedly – apparently from nowhere. The challenge in today’s left-brain, back-covering culture is getting support for ideas you know are absolutely right but can’t easily prove why.

This snippet of Apple’s Jonathan Ive talking on Stephen Fry’s recent series in the USA is short but revealing. Ive talks with touching sincerity about how fragile ideas are and how easy it is to snuff them out. Evidently Apple aren’t one of those companies.

Where is my mind?

Most holiday advertising gets no more sophisticated than showing sun-soaked beaches with a cocktail in near focus.

Which is why it’s nice to see The Body Holiday. Their proposition is crystal clear and seems to tap into a genuine consumer insight.

Will Steve make us shit in our pants next Wednesday?

With rumour and excitement around Apple’s newest creation hitting fever pitch, I’m reminded of this fabulous article from 2003 which recalls Steve Jobs views on the Segway scooter prototype. It offers a rare insight into the great man’s thinking and his exacting standards around product design. His criteria are instructive and wonderful:

  1. Is it elegant
    A beautiful word, and something that sets Apple’s products apart. Even power adaptors have to be gorgeous.
  2. Is it innovative
    A much used word, but in Apple’s case it’s evidently true
  3. Is it anthropomorphic
    OMG have you ever even thought of word that when considering products? Maybe one of the reasons that pinch-to-resize, flick-to-scroll and shake-to-undo are so compelling is that they feel right. It’s human. It’s like real life.

Steve also seems to believe in launching and committing with absolute ferocity. ‘Putting it out there’ and getting a bit of impact is cautious and prudent. Your CFO will like that approach. But it’s not for Steve,

“I understand the appeal of a slow burn,” he concluded, “but personally I’m a big-bang guy.”

Finally, and this is the killer test, Apple understand the wow factor, the ability to deliver jaw dropping moments. Jobs is quite clear on this one…

You have this incredibly innovative machine but it looks very traditional.” The last word delivered like a stab… “There are design firms out there that could come up with things we’ve never thought of,” Jobs continued, “things that would make you shit in your pants.”

Here’s to next Wednesday…