Inside Apple’s Creative Process (with Ken Kocienda)

Over a period of fifteen years, Ken Kocienda had a front-row seat to the development of some of the most innovative technology in history. As a team member, he was responsible for helping develop the software on the iPhone, including being personally responsible for the development of the iPhone keyboard and autocorrect features. In this interview, he shares insights into how Apple’s creative process works, what it was like to pitch and demo to Steve Jobs, and how we can all learn from Apple’s successes and apply some of their methods to our own life and work.

Staying Out Of The “Danger Zone”

We each have danger zones we have to watch out for in the course of our work. They can be particular habits or patterns we fall into when we go into “coast mode” or areas or situations where we are likely to get irritated and short-circuit collaborative relationships. On this episode, we share about the importance of avoiding the temptation to hide in the shadows, and a few strategies for bringing yourself fully and freely to the work you do. 

Get Rid Of Ghost Rules

Do you ever find yourself doing things for inexplicable reasons, or making decisions in your work that you can’t really explain? It’s possible that you’re living with “ghost rules”. These are invisible narratives that limit your thinking and creating, and can – over time – cause you to underperform. On this episode, we share a few sources of ghost rules (from the book Herding Tigers), and how to begin to overcome them.

How To Choose The Best Idea

We’ve all been there. You have ten great ideas on the whiteboard, and you have to make a decision today about which you’re going to work on. How do you know which one is best?

It helps to have a framework for making these decisions. On this episode, I share a simple framework for choosing the best idea, and for making those “from the gut” conversations about creative direction a little less stressful.

Eliminate Unnecessary Complexity

Things rarely get more simple. They typically only get more complex. This applies to our creative process as well, and unnecessary complexity can have a terrible effect on our ability to gain mental traction. On this episode, we share three ways unnecessary complexity can creep into your process and how to begin to identify and overcome them. 

Dropping Insecurity Work

I first heard the phrase “insecurity work” from Scott Belsky a number of years ago. He defines it as work that has no intended outcome, doesn’t move the ball forward, and is quick enough to do without realizing. It’s most common to slip into insecurity work when you feel overwhelmed or perhaps even unequal to the creative task at hand, and it gives you the illusion of progress but actually robs valuable resources necessary to produce value. On this episode, I share three sources of insecurity work and how to recognize and address them.