A million iPad 2’s were sold in the first week after the product was announced. Apple’s success with the iPad, the iPhone, the iPod, and the Mac makes me wonder: How do they do it? What lets this company create countless product hits? The answer: Steve Jobs.

But how does Jobs do it? He is creative, energetic, and focused. But I know lots of people like that who are also broke.

An area called neurolinguistic programming (NLP) may hold some answers. Originally developed to model human excellence, it contains enlightening assumptions.

For example, “If one person can do something, others can learn to do it.” There are obviously other factors such as genetics and aptitudes, but it’s not to hard to accept that if I knew the individual processes and goals at work in Tiger Woods’ golf behavior, and emulated and practiced them, my game would improve.

Another important aspect of NLP learning: For an outcome to be effective, it must be “well formed.” A well-formed outcome is stated positively — in terms of what will happen or appear, not what won’t; is defined and evaluated using sensory evidence; is effected by those interested in producing the outcome; has beneficial, not detrimental, effects on the current state; is worthwhile and in harmony with the values of those producing it; and has a context that clearly defines when and where it is desired.

Although many in the 1980s thought the idea outrageous, Jobs believed the computer would become a consumer product, not just a smaller versions of bigger

computers. I am guessing that Jobs’ criteria for a new product had and has to do with one factor more than any other: user experience.

A well-formed outcome for the iPad according to the NLP concepts might look something like this:

The iPad will appear to consumers to be something new, powerful, and desirable; look and feel radically different from other tablet computers; have significantly more responsive computation, graphics, and networking; have a long battery life; will be lighter and brighter than anything else on the market; be available by April 2010 through a wide variety of retail outlets; and be usable in work, leisure, and educational settings. In addition, the iPad will be designed and produced by Apple without cannibalizing any of the company’s existing products. Also, the device will be in harmony with Apple’s values of producing “insanely great” products that stun the market with their sensual and practical qualities. Lastly, the device will provide another vehicle for apps sold exclusively through iTunes.

Note that this well-formed outcome does not guarantee the iPad’s design. Someone still had to judge how well the design met the criteria. Jobs is well known for being demanding; ultimately, this is what produced Apple’s breakthrough

products. But by modeling — even in fantasy — this one well-formed outcome, I’ve created a structured extension to my own product-creation faculty

that can potentially serve me well.

Now for that golf swing.

— Joel Orr

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.