Ken Kocienda, the former principal engineer of iPhone software at Apple, key developer of the first Safari browser on macOS and the first iPhone 1 touch keyboard, writes in his book “Creative Selection” about how they collaborated at Apple:
We rarely had brainstorming sessions. I recall only a few times in my entire Apple career when I stood around to rough out big plans at a whiteboard. Even when it did happen, (...), we chatted, sketched, and came to our decisions as quickly as we could. If brainstorms run longer than an hour or so, or if there are more than a handful of people in attendance, or if they’re a common occurrence, they can devolve into a form of sneaky procrastination. Whiteboard discussions feel like work, but often they’re not, since it’s too difficult to talk productively about ideas in the abstract.
The field was wide open, so, when any of us had a new concept (…), we made a demo to communicate what we were thinking. Literally, we had to demonstrate our idea. We couldn’t get away with telling. We were required to show. We combined some inspiration, craft, taste, and decisiveness, and we shared our results. We had to work like this, because the team didn’t accept anything unless it was concrete and specific, a demo showing what we meant.”
Ken Kocienda describes this period of creative collaboration as ‘The Golden Age’ at Apple. It confirms that writing about the User Experience field has mostly been dominated by service agencies — because Kocienda's experience tells us what it is really like to design a product: Hard work, trying to define and solve problems, no “empathy maps” or “user journey”. You can boil his insights down to:
Demo the heck out of everything.
The more one adds to this principle, the more you shift your focus on shaping a more complex process. And when process is king: Human creativity dies.