Even the best product designers put people at the heart of what they do. It’s a deadly mistake to believe in the myth of the lone genius innovator. Anticipating people’s needs and big market opportunities years out into the future requires a deep understanding of our fellow humans. This does not come from innate talent, it comes from hard work by individuals who relentlessly put others at the center of what they say, think, and do.
“We would find him hiding behind the bushes or around the corner outside, peering inside to see what was going on. We would go, ‘There’s Steve! Everybody play cool.’ We thought he was evaluating us. It was nerve-wracking.”
ZURB notes that Steve likely wasn’t just observing employees but everything about theStore experience. How customers act around his products, how they moved about the store, how they interacted with employees. He was staying in touch, albeit from a slightly comic distance from Louis’ description.
The New York Times writes, “Employees at stores provide the company with a powerful window into user habits and needs, even if it is not conventional market research. ‘Steve visits the Apple store in Palo Alto frequently,’ said Mr. McKenna, a former consultant to Apple. The design decisions made by Mr. Jobs, Mr. McKenna said, are informed by his grasp of users’ desires, technology trends and popular culture.”