Creativity is at the core of innovation, and every product at Apple Corporation starts with creative design.
Design is a core activity at Apple, where the entire product development process conforms to the designers vision. This the polar opposite of the way it works at most other companies. Instead of the design being restricted to limits imposed by the finance, sourcing, logistics or manufacturing departments, these all conform to the will of the Apple design department headed by Jonathan Ive.
Once a new product has been decided on, a team is organized and segregated from the rest of the company by confidentiality agreements and sometimes physical barriers. Sections of the building may be locked or cordoned off to make room for the teams working on a sensitive new project. This effectively creates a ‘start-up’ inside the company that is only responsible to the executive team, to which they report on Mondays, freeing them from the overall reporting structure of a big company. This is the way it has been ever since the foundation of Apple Computer Corporation, where Steve Jobs himself led the new product team for early products such as Lisa.
Below is a recent video where Jonathan Ive reveals thoughts behind the product design process in dialogue with Graydon Carter. The video has many lessons to learn from for other consumer product companies.