In one sense, it’s ridiculous to speculate that Ive could be more integral to Apple’s overall success than Steve Jobs. After all, if Jobs had never come back, Apple would likely have been bought out or gone out of business all together. That said, a massive new profile of Ive in The New Yorker makes it clear that Ive possesses not only design smarts but a leadership style that may have been better suited than Jobs’ for getting the most out of the people who work for him.
Here’s the major difference between Ive and Jobs, as told in The New Yorker: While Ive shares Jobs’s restless perfectionism and attention to detail, he also isn’t as brutally nasty as Jobs used to be when criticizing others’ work. So whereas Jobs used to rip into people in very personal ways, Ive tries to make it clear that any criticism he levies is all about improving the product and not shaming people on his design team.
Even more importantly, Ive himself isn’t insulated from criticisms of his design ideas. In fact, Ive acknowledges that he and members of his team tend to go through “seasons” where they seem to lose all sense of good taste.
“Let’s say we’re talking about something that I’ve done that’s ugly and ill-proportioned — because, believe you me, I can pull some beauties out of the old hat,” says Ive. “It’s fine, and we all do, and sometimes we do it repeatedly.”
Ive also promotes a sense of solidarity on his design team and he really emphasizes that while all projects have a lead designer, every design has thorough input from other team players. In the end, everyone gets credit for a successful design since nobody has all the answers all the time.
The entire New Yorker profile is absolutely fascinating and can be found by clicking here.