When Jack Dorsey, Square's CEO and Twitter's co-founder, wants to motivate employees, he takes them to Land's End in San Francisco.
There, they stare at the Golden Gate Bridge.
To Dorsey, the bridge is the perfect example of the way good software should run. People don't think about how it works, they just know they can use it, admire it, and they won't be let down.
" We see the bridge as like this perfect intersection between art and engineering," says Dorsey. "It has pure utility, in that people commute on it every single day. When people come to Twitter and they want to express something in the world, the technology fades away. It's them writing a simple message and them knowing that people are going to see it…[The functionality] disappears. It disappears because it's so intuitive. It just works."
Dorsey has long been fascinated by the bridge. He owns a $10 million home overlooking it in El Camino Del Mar, the exclusive Seacliff neighborhood of San Francisco. He also held a town-hall meeting at Square devoted entirely to the aesthetics of the bridge.
" So, how many of you have walked or driven across the Golden Gate Bridge?" he asked employees then. "Almost everyone in the room. This is one of my favorite parts of living in San Francisco. This is astoundingly beautiful, and it’s not just beautiful because it looks pretty, it’s beautiful because of the challenge that everyone who built this bridge overcame."
His point? Everything at Square – or at any company – should be about design and making a beautiful, functional experience.
" Just look at this bridge, it’s amazing what was achieved with resources they had in the time these folks had," he told the group. "Millions and millions of people go over this bridge, and one of the features of this bridge is it doesn’t fall down. Reliability is a feature... So, your homework for the weekend is to cross this bridge, think about that, and then also think about how we take those lessons into doing what we want do, which is carry every single transaction in the world."
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