Bringing the a-team: Process or content people?

The Lost Interview with Steve Jobs has some really interesting thoughts on building innovative product teams.

Re-watching “The Lost Interview” with Steve Jobs (an interview done before he was reinstated as CEO of Apple) gave us some new interesting points on how to build innovative product teams.

The celebrated innovator shares a common mistake: When trying to replicate initial success, companies tend to focus on processes instead of content (the value that the product brings into the world). And at its worst, companies start to think their process is their content.

But the best process people don’t make great products without great content people. And according to Steve Jobs, the people you should really be looking for are those people that deeply understand the content their working with – even if they are a mess to manage.

Needless to say, as a product company, this resonates with us. We’ve all met the hardcore process person: Those who are so focused on the process, pleasing their leaders and their excel sheets, that they completely forgot what it’s all about: The product.


Of course, these are also the people we are looking for in our team: Incredibly skilled developers who focus on concept, product, and content – and insist on creating the best solutions rather than getting caught up in the process and settling with the product once it meets the requirement.

Steve Jobs has another few points on this. First of all, when a company successfully attracts an a-team player, this has a tendency to lure in even more a-team players. And in development, these kinds of people can make a huge difference.

The difference between an average and a great taxi driver is maybe factor 1:2. There is only so much that can be optimized – even if you’re the best in that arena. But in development, we are rather talking about a 1:50 or 1:100 difference between the average developer and the best:

Imagine a whole team working on the wrong product for several years because no one has the guts and skill to see that the content of the product is not making enough impact in order to become a success. Every single hour spent in that process is a complete waste.

In software development – as well as in product development – the ability to insist on making the right decisions and adjusting along the way, rather than just following some required steps, is what makes the grand impact.


Needles to say, we are really looking for those content people - and we are so pleased that we already found a handful of them.

This doesn’t mean that a great process and meaningful documentation aren’t a priority. But if you don’t develop something that’s worth documenting, what does it matter?

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