But What if it Isn’t?

by Ryan Beckham


No matter what industry you work in, the next time something seems finished, ask yourself, “But, what if it isn’t?” Believe it or not, this simple question is the secret sauce that separates good companies from great. Don’t believe us? Take a look at companies like Apple, Pixar, and more recently T-Mobile. These companies define excellent user experience and have learned to take a step back and look at ways to improve their work. Great companies like this don’t just ask the question. They live by the question, and never stop looking for ways to make things better!

Here’s a simple case study. February 25th, 2007.

Apple just announced the single most revolutionary gadget of the 21st century: the iPhone. Here’s a look at what they announced:

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Okay, okay. Maybe this wasn’t what the first iPhone looked like. But it was what people THOUGHT the first iPhone would look like. Apple even showed this picture during the keynote to laugh at how ridiculous an idea like this actually would be.

Fast forward, and we now know that the pictured “iPhone” wasn’t too far from a design Apple was going to use. Iteration after iteration lead the company to the design we know and love today. Asking, “Is it good enough?” or, “Can it be better?” led to the breakthrough design every smartphone is now modeled after. The catch is that their work is never done. As soon as a new phone is announced, the company quietly goes back to work looking at ways to improve on what they just released.

Pixar is another great example of a company constantly looking for ways to improve their movies, even by going to most people would find obsessive! Take their latest release, Inside Out, for instance. Tech Insider points out, “In one scene, Riley’s dad struggles to feed his daughter broccoli. Like most toddlers, she’s flat out disgusted by the vegetable, refusing to eat it. In Japan’s cut for the film; however, broccoli is replaced by bell peppers.”

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Why does Pixar go so far as to change out scenes in their movies? The answer is simple: kids in Japan find bell peppers disgusting, while they find broccoli sweet and delicious. By changing the scene, Pixar relates to Japanese culture in a much more meaningful way. This, in turn, helps audiences build an emotional connection with the main character. These small differences are scattered throughout the movie, and ultimately help make Inside Out great rather than good.

The next time you think everything is fine and dandy, ask yourself: “But, what if it isn’t?” How can a design be improved? How can customer experience be improved? How can your service be streamlined?

Take the time to figure out what those small details are. It’s this attention to detail and drive for perfection that makes employees passionate about the work they make, and customers passionate about the work they receive.

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