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Episode 79 August 22, 2017 | 39min

Design Takes Command

Our co-founders on the role of design throughout tech history.

Show Notes

How design came to drive business: this week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade talk about the evolution of the role of design in the tech industry, from Microsoft’s early dominance — privileging function over form — to Apple’s ascendency in the past decade, where user-centered design, particularly on mobile, has led to their success. Topics discussed include the McKinsey consultants, the early history of Apple, the jumble of titles and roles in the digital design world, and Rich’s perpetual hatred of Apple’s chief design officer, Jony Ive.

Rich: You know, you always lay it on me. I don’t know why, we both wanna talk about it, Paul. It’s our show, right?

Paul: That’s right.

Rich: I don’t mind that my name sits under yours.

Paul: Let’s talk about —

Rich: By the — let’s talk about the fact that we get emails that say, “Paul, I really enjoy your show.” And that’s it.

Paul: I know.

Rich: Whatever, dude.

Rich: We’ll hang anything.

Paul: We really will. [laughter] I swear to God, if you send us any piece of paper —

Rich: A certificate of some sort.

Paul: That’s just like, “Postlight: Great Agency, Thumbs Up” with a little ribbon on it?

Rich: Yeah.

Paul: We’ll put it up on the wall where we do all our selling.

Paul: Design can push through institutional inertia.

Rich: Exactly. Hey McKinsey, if you wanna use that quote…

Paul: That’s right.

Rich: Just say it again, Paul, but say it with, like, as if you’ve been hired at a very expensive rate.

Paul: You know, one of the things that we learned at our offsite, and that we discuss quite a bit, is that design can cut through organizational inertia at a 1.5 rate on —

Rich: All right, look, don’t, don’t, you had it, and then you had to kind of go into a…you started doing wheelies, and nobody, you didn’t need ’em! You didn’t need ’em. OK?

Paul: I need to go put on a suit.

Correction: Oxo, the British food company, and OXO, the American kitchen supply company, are separate.