Real innovation is, in case you haven’t noticed, kind of a bitch.
As a product manager I want to provide my team with really solid direction, thinking that there must be shining, slam-dunk use cases that will present themselves, rendering all debate moot. Sometimes that happens; often, though, you’ve got to take some leaps of faith (“skating to where the puck is going to be”). By chance this week I came across a couple of interesting remarks:
The first comes from Steve Hayden, who helped develop Apple’s breakthrough “1984” commercial:
One of the many agency heads I’ve worked with over the years said, “When it’s great, there’s no debate.” I can’t imagine a more fatuous, false statement. There was plenty of debate around “1984.” It very nearly didn’t run.
The second concerns the creator of the famous James Bond music:
It’s impossible to imagine James Bond without Barry’s music, but apparently it almost happened:
Shortly after this Barry would receive the fateful phone call from Bond producer Harry Saltzman. “I got a phone call from Harry,” recalled Barry in a 2006 article in the Telegraph. “He never used to come down to the recording sessions, and he says: ‘John, that is the worst f*cking song I ever heard in my life. We open in three weeks’ time, otherwise I’d take that f*cking song out of the picture. I’d take it out! Out!’”
It’s not just that people didn’t grasp the concepts up front: it’s that even when presented with finished, ready-to-ship products that were about to become classics, they still didn’t get it.
I offer this simply as encouragement to anyone trying to break new ground. If this work were easy, it’d be boring, and everyone would do it.