Text 6 Oct 24 notes Steve Jobs: Lessons for the planning profession
Tony Dorcey, a prof in my program, took to the planning school’s listserv today to telegraph some of his initial thoughts on lessons for the planning school from the impact of Steve Jobs. I’m going to share some unvarnished first thoughts based on what I’ve been exposed to on the broader topic of directions for planning as a profession. (I’d also argue, given how central a role design plays in Apple’s value proposition, that the similarities between planning and user-centred design are by no means by chance.)

John Gruber’s brief anecdote and reflection speaks to Steve’s single-minded devotion to his vision, even in the last months of his life. There’s been some debate on this Hacker News thread about whether Steve deserves all the attention he’s receiving. This comment is one I found particularly noteworthy:

As one of those former engineers at Apple, I can say definitively that Steve deserves it. Without him, we’d never have had the canvas on which to paint.

He made our contributions possible.

This following quote from Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist, offered by anactofgod from the same thread also expands on that notion of creating space:

A CEO does only three things. Sets the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicates it to all stakeholders. Recruits, hires, and retains the very best talent for the company. Makes sure there is always enough cash in the bank.

This piece on Paul Rand and Steve Jobs opens up some questions about the professional autonomy of experts that I also think is important to examine for planning specifically. On the one hand, as someone deeply interested in the potential (and attentive to the failures) of communicative planning, there’s more than enough to quibble there about the blind trust and faith in experts. But on the other (drawing especially from this story from past Apple engineers), I think there’s something to be said about the way accessible design — accessible in the sense that it noticeably enhances the experience of the activities we wish to nurture, such as creative expression — is never compromised in the rush to showcase technical innovation. It has to make sense to the people who are using it. It is our capacity to channel our own voice in service of that — in the midst of the decision-making and processes which characterise everyday activity in large organizations — that determines the success or failure of what we make.
  1. counti8 posted this

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