The surprising reveal about the making of the AirPods Pro

Unlike other Apple teams, the AirPods Pro executive would have shown complete transparency during development.

As we know, Apple pays special attention to the way its teams work. If they’ve just returned to Apple Park after two years of working from home, Apple employees once worked completely independently in offices without knowing what other departments were working on. An unfavorable work environment that a former Apple HR executive wanted to change.

Chris Deaver, as he is known, worked at Apple from 2015 to 2019. In an interview with FastCompany, he explains how Apple teams worked back then and how they were all forced to keep secret what they were working on. For example, an employee working on the iPhone cannot discuss new features or advances in the smartphone with an employee on the MacBook, and vice versa.

“While Apple was so clear in emphasizing secrecy as a core corporate value, behind the scenes each of these leaders emphasized the power of what has made them successful: sharing. […] Jony Ive’s design team talked about it.” he explains.

“Of course, not a single executive has suggested going as far as sharing as the Silicon Valley companies that release product roadmaps to the public. That would spoil the surprise. But what we did find was a degree of openness in a notoriously closed system that required a lot more parts.”

Bringing transparency into Apple’s DNA

Chris Deaver would have consulted various experts, including Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar. The animation studio teams worked together and discussed all their progress. An approach that is “rooted in Pixar’s culture and that we wanted to infuse into Apple’s DNA.”

Prioritizing team transparency and brainstorming is how the AirPods Pro team worked. Weekly session of transparency between employees, sharing the challenges employees face… Everyone then had to explain exactly where they were in development and what other teams could be useful for them while now working in large open spaces and not more in small offices than before.

The benefits were immediately apparent, according to Deaver: better collaboration, more efficient teams… This new culture at Apple even had a name. “Different together”based on the no less famous “Think differently”.

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