I’ve been blogging a lot lately about the importance of endings. As part of my research, I came across an interesting, possibly apocryphal story about Steve Jobs that I thought was interesting. It goes something like this:
The first iPod was almost ready to go. Jobs had been working his engineers night and day for weeks to get to this point, criticizing hundreds of minor details with his famous focus on simplicity and the end-user experience.
Just a few days from production, the engineers brought the little device to him, confident that they finally had it right.
Jobs holds the device in his hand, this revolutionary pillbox that would disrupt markets for decades. He takes the headphone jack and inserts it into the iPod. The engineers await in tense silence. Something is wrong, and Jobs hasn’t even hit play yet.
He takes the jack out and inserts it again. Then he does it again. Dread descends on the group. The planned launch is only days away. Jobs frowns and finally pronounces, “Where’s the click?”
The exhausted engineers sag, “Click? What are you talking about?”
“I mean that people need a click when they insert the jack,” say Jobs. “Without the click, they won’t know that it’s properly in there. They will keep working it and worrying with the headphones until they break. The solution is not elegant. This is not design thinking.”*
People need endings. Satisfying endings have a satisfying click. Closure re-energizes us. It gives us confidence and clarity, both very useful as we put success behind us and turn to future challenges.
So the next time you start to prepare a new initiative, ask yourself, “Where’s the click?”
*The narrative of this story is as reported by Johnny Ive. The dialogue, though, is a highly fictionalized approximation entirely made up by me.