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Hey, CEO! Do You Know How To Dress?

Posted on Monday, Apr 25th 2005

A few weeks ago, Businessweek published an article that caught my eye: Where MBAs Learn The Art Of Blue-Skying. For the longest time, high-tech has produced entrepreneurs and CEOs who are, for the most part, nerds. Fairly unidimensional, Silicon Valley is not known for its taste. It is known for its amazing talent in figuring out physics and electronics. BUT.

The but factor is Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs has taste. Exquisite taste. The staircase at the office of NeXT Computer (that salvaged Apple, eventually) was designed by I.M. Pei, one of the most fundamental thinkers in the history of architecture. And hence, it is no surprise that Steve Jobs is the one who comes up with the iPod, or, for that matter, the NeXT computer. (When I was in college, there was a “shrine” for a single NeXT machine in the computer science department at Smith College.) NeXT was a slick black animal, panther-like, precise, crisp. All those words that evoke imagery of salivating women. To me, the design of NeXT was like Pugliese, one of the greatest maestros of Argentine tango music.

According to Businessweek, “If you are looking for a business school that teaches you how to think creatively, design new products and services, manage your innovations through a corporate bureaucracy, or present them to outside angel investors, Fontainebleau, France-based INSEAD, the leading European business-school just outside Paris, may be just the place. INSEAD has joined with the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California to offer a joint program that teaches the role of creativity in business decisions, how innovation really works, and why design may be as important to corporate management today as Six Sigma was in the 1990s. A Swiss trustee who sits on both boards brought them together.”

I am delighted. The marriage of business savvy with design and creativity is essential. For example, I am frustrated that the Toyota Prius has not been able to come up with a better design. The world’s top-selling hybrid car is an ugly piece of industrial design.

Of course, it would be great if the fashion business learned some business, too! It would at least help them in staying . . . well . . . alive?

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[...] ‘).parentNode.className += ‘ adhesive_post’; Everyone has always wanted to be Steve Jobs – for his sense of style, his dress sense, his ability to mesmerize the audiences with shiny toys and of cours [...]

Om Malik on Broadband » Real, Microsoft, Napster versus Steve Jobs Tuesday, April 26, 2005 at 9:15 AM PT

Yes, yes and yes. Agreed on all points.

First yes – The Prius’ design is hideous and yet people buy it. The only reasons why I can imagine this happens are probably a sense of social responsibility, good marketing and thriftiness. And like you, I imagine if it had the sleek, black panther appeal of NeXT I’d own one today. I just can’t bring myself to buy such an ugly design. At first I thought this made me a superficial person, but if I reward bad design now, it’s only going to breed more of it. So I say no to the Prius…for now…

Second yes – We are entering an age where computing power is hitting a ceiling because it seems to be running up against the laws of physics. I could be wrong here, but I think there’s a reason why people are saying that Moore’s Law is no longer valid. The end of this computing revolution is nearing a close. Isn’t it true that processors can only get so fast before they melt themselves? Anybody ever burn themselves with the bottom of their laptop recently? That’s why I think we’re about to start a new revolution, that could be known as a spiritual revolution where we can focus inward and discover new ways to apply the technology for the true betterment of all humankind. At least I hope that the next revolution. All signs point there.

Third yes – To that point, our founder recently shared a video at TED by the industrial designer, Ross Lovegrove. He’s an extremely passionate guy and his work is heavily influenced by nature at the cellular level. You mentioned I.M Pei’s staircase in reference to Jobs. Lovegrove showed pictures in the talk of a staircase that he designed based on James Watson’s model of the double helix. It’s cost over $250,000 to produce, but the staircase is one solid piece and the hand rail is only connected in two places to the inner structure. Organic, intuitive and simply amazing. Check out this interview with him: http://www.designboom.com/eng/interview/lovegrove.html

Thanks for the post.

Justin Gardner Tuesday, April 26, 2005 at 3:00 PM PT

[...] wrote a very popular piece 2 years back called Hey CEO: Do you know how to dress? In the interim 2 years, Design has become a critical and celebrated element of business success. [...]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Design to Move Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at 6:00 AM PT
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