Since departing Apple in 2012, Scott Forstall has shifted his focus primarily to Broadway production. Every so often, however, Forstall takes time in an interview to reference his days as an Apple software VP. In the latest instance of this, Forstall talks Steve Jobs, Apple TV, and more.
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Today, video from an episode of Philosophy Talk – entitled “The Creative Life” – was shared on YouTube. In the interview, Scott Forstall is asked about working for Steve Jobs and how that relationship affected creativity. The interview took place in October, but only today has the full video been uploaded to YouTube.
Co-host Ken Taylor pointed to Jobs’ reputation as a “brutally honest man,” and asked Forstall how creativity was able to thrive in such an environment. The former Apple executive explained that Apple was always 100 percent committed to an idea:
“I think when we were working on a given project, on new features, we protected that bud of a new idea and we were very careful about that. Certainly, if we got to a point where an idea was not good, we would cut it, but at the moment where we considered whether or this was worth doing, we 100 percent would support that. You can actually create an environment to support creativity.”
For his part in fostering creativity, Forstall explained that after finishing a release of Mac OS X, he would allow his team to have one month to work on whatever they wanted:
“One thing I would do when we were working on Mac OS X, whenever a release was finished, I would give every single person in the department an entire month anything they wanted. For a month. It’s kind of insane because you’re talking thousands of people for a month, millions of dollars of salary spent for a month for people to do whatever they wanted and they would work so hard that month coming up with incredible ideas.”
After this month was over, everyone would present their creations to Forstall. One such presentation was for a 10-foot interface – which ultimately led to the creation of the Apple TV:
“In fact, one I saw was this idea of a 10-foot user interface, and we turned it into the Apple TV. Apple TV was invented because someone was encouraged to do whatever they wanted for a month.
You can have that kind of environment to support creativity.”
Forstall was also asked about the idea of risk-taking in creative fields. He pointed to Apple’s decision to cancel the iPod mini prior to the launch of the iPod nano. Forstall said this could have devastated the company:
“I think you’re always taking risks. At Apple one time, we had been close to bankruptcy, we come out with the iPod and the iPod had been selling ok, we had the best-selling product unit-wise in the history of the company. Then we come out with the iPod nano. We knew we were going to develop it, and we canceled the entire iPod mini line before we even shipped the new product and it could have devastated the company. But we did it because we believed in it and we took risks.”
The full interview is definitely worth a watch and can be viewed below: