I’ve just read a fascinating interview with Jony Ive, the man who has led Apple’s industry-leading, world changing design team for more than a decade.
There’s a wake up call in here for those of us who design and deliver education and training.
“When we worked on the iPhone, certainly a significant part of our motivation was the loathing we had for the phones we were using,” Ive tells his interviewer.
“Why?” the interviewer – David Remnick – asks. “Because they felt horrible in the hand, they didn’t work, they looked like crap…?”
“I think all of that,” Ive responds. “They were poorly made, they were — to me they testified to convenience and a lack of ambition. I just find it hard not to take affront to that. I think we’re important and we deserve at least a sincere effort.”
I’ve felt like this before…
When I worked as part of a team designing the Work Programme in 2010, there was a similar spirit. We had all worked in employment services and we all believed that we could do so much better.
What drove our team was a desire to do something that was a step better than what had gone before. We resisted the status quo. We wanted to raise the bar.
Did we achieve everything we set out to? Not by a long way. But did thinking ambitiously for ourselves and for our customers take us a lot further than our competition? Yes. Did it take us further than we might have gone otherwise? Absolutely.
Earlier this year, I worked with a team bidding for the new Work and Health Programme. One senior manager said to me: “This is a mission for me George, and I won’t stop until we’ve done it – I’m here to make something different and better.”
Well, now they’ve won the right to deliver that service – and I hope very much that they deliver the service they’ve imagined. Thousands of disadvantaged people, who’ve not had a job in years, depend on it.
That feeling hasn’t gone away…
I’m now doing a lot of work in the apprenticeships and skills market in the UK. When I look around, I see some genuinely great work – lives changed, businesses improved, and all that. But.
If we are really honest with ourselves, when we look at what we deliver , do we get that same feeling that Jony Ive describes? Do we see convenience and a lack of ambition?
We’ve focused on inputs and outputs, rather than outcomes. We’ve kidded ourselves that compliance with legislation and guidance is the same thing as quality. We’ve focused on the requirements of our contracts with government – rather than the needs and desires of employers and learners.
The Apprenticeship Levy provides us with a once in a generation opportunity to do something better.
Something that delivers incredible learning content, in new and more accessible ways, through genuine experts.
Something that helps learners reach another level – not just get a certificate – and transforms businesses as a result, and makes our country a better and more prosperous place.
The big why
Why should we care about this?
There’s an obvious commercial advantage. That mindset helped Apple become on of the most successful companies in the world.
But, Apple are also driven by a need to make the world a better place through their products.
If we worked with the same passion, restlessness and refusal to accept second-best that Jony Ive and his team have worked with for so many years, how much of a better place could our products make the world?
Like Jony Ive, I think that “we’re important”. I think that the people we educate and train and the businesses that they work for are important. And they deserve nothing less than a “sincere effort”. People are important. Some of the people that we support don’t feel that important. And they deserve to. They deserve nothing less.
What do you think? What do Jony Ive’s words spark in you?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom of the page.
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