Yesterday I sat in a crowded bar with about 200 Ugandans (and a handful of Kenyans) and watched a big soccer match between Uganda and Kenya on television. The experience of being there with all those people was great, but my experience of the game itself was awful. I could barely follow the action.
There were vuvzelas and whistles blowing, a busted television, horrible ads splashed across the action, and the TV cameras were so lo-res that you could hardly see the ball.
The two teams were playing only a few miles away, but between them and me were so many layers of noise that I missed much of what was happening on the field. (I don’t mean noise in the auditory sense (though that was definitely part of it), but in the signal-vs-noise sense, noise meaning anything that degrades the information being sent.)
It made me wonder, how many layers of noise come between me and Ember’s customers?
It won’t surprise you that I thought about Steve Jobs, about how he controlled the noise between himself and Apple’s customers. He was a legendary perfectionist and notorious micro-manager, ensuring that his vision came through in Apple’s products. And he built an online and physical retail empire, giving customers direct, noiseless access to that vision.
He even responded with legendary regularity to customer emails. Jobs built a company that stripped noise out wherever possible so that he could broadcast his message loud and clear. I’d like to transmit the Ember message with as much clarity.