Photo: Dan Frommer, Business Insider
Steve Jobs was a true obsessive. He pored over every tiny detail of every product, every ad, every store, every thing related to Apple.
His attention to detail and craft comes from his father who told him it was important to craft the backs of fences and cabinets even though they would never be seen.
Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson, “He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.”
While that’s an important lesson to learn, Jobs may have taken it a little too far.
The Jobs biography is loaded with examples of Jobs zeroing in on even the most insignificant detail just to get things right.
For instance, when Apple was starting to open new retail stores, his ad partner Lee Clow said, “Steve made us spend a half hour deciding what hue of grey the restroom signs should be.”
It’s good to get the colour right, but there’s no reason to take a half hour agonizing over such a small detail. Pick a nice shade of grey, move on.
Of course, that’s why he’s Steve Jobs and we’re not.
We pulled a few more examples of his attention to detail…
He wanted the bars to have pinstripes. Bill Atkinson, one of the main Mac developers, said, 'We must have gone through 20 different title bar designs before he was happy.' Eventually Atkinson and another employee complained about wasting time on endless small tweaks.
Jobs freaked out on them, shouting, 'Can you imagine looking at that every day? It's not just a little thing, it's something we have to do right.'
Apple's manufacturing partner had 2,000 shades of beige. None of them were good enough. So he came up with his own.
It took him over a year to design the interior of his Gulfstream jet. The reason? He insisted that there were no buttons that toggled. He also hated stainless steel buttons, so he had them replaced with brushed metal buttons.
One of Apple's Mac engineers busted his butt to make the computer do oval and circle illustrations. Everyone in the Mac group was proud. Not Jobs. All he could say was, 'Well, circles and ovals are good, but how about drawing rectangles with rounded corners?' The engineer said, 'I wanted to keep the graphics routines lean and limit them to the primitives that truly needed to be done.'
Jobs flipped out. He said rectangles with round corners were everywhere. He dragged the engineer out of Apple's office and took him for a walk pointing out 17 examples of rectangles with round corners within three blocks.
The building's steel beams were going to be exposed, so Isaacson says Jobs looked at samples of beams from around the country. He picked beams from Arkansas, and made sure the steel was blasted to its pure colour. Then he made sure the truckers didn't leave any marks on the beams. He also insisted the beams were bolted together, not welded, and then clear coated.