Robert Scoble has two posts up following a conversation he had with Tom Conrad, now of Pandora, but more pertinently, formerly of Apple.
In the first, he tells an Apple joke:
If it’s 999 engineers who say “yes” to an idea vs. one who says “no” they’d score it as a tie and kill the idea. It wasn’t a funny joke. Apple before Jobs came back was paralysed and couldn’t get stuff done. I told him it sounded a lot like many groups at Microsoft. He explained why the joke was true. After all, the one engineer who said no was freaking smart. Probably had some degree from MIT and probably had invented something really killer.
He explained why Apple is so good now that Jobs is back. He was the tie breaker. All votes went his way.
And in the second he asks, ‘what will Steve Jobs kill next’?
Apple II? Didn’t have switches on the front.
Macintosh? No tape drive. No cursor keys.
Next? No disk drive.
iMac? No floppy drive.
iPod? No on/off button.
iPhone? No keyboard.
Where did I get this from? Tom Conrad, CTO of Pandora. He used to work at Apple. He tells me he asks himself what he should remove from his products to make them simpler. One thing he did on Pandora? Made the UI much smaller than a typical Web page. People asked him to add features. He said “they don’t fit.”
There is clearly a connection between the two – challenging consensus is likely to be a minority activity. And if the score is 999-1 in a company famous for iconoclasm and innovation, what might it be like in, to take a random example, a large government department. Who gets to play Steve Jobs? And if we don’t have one of those, what’s our alternative?