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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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Steve’s Most Important Value: Attention to Details

Each of us has our own set of values, our own sense of what is important. If you have read other articles or books about Steve Jobs, you already know that at the top of his list of priorities was a compelling sense that attention to even the smallest details is crucial. Anyone involved in product development could hardly pick a more important value to have at the top of his or her own list.

On our walks together, one frequent subject was design, which, he complained, most people understood as how something looks but really should be understood as referring to the product as a whole. This was the first time I heard him express the concept that design means how it looks, but more important, it also means how it works.

Once, music-industry CEO Hilary Rosen was allowed to sit in on a session when two Apple team members were showing Steve their new version of a screen display that Steve had rejected on the previous go-around. “Steve spent about twenty minutes back and forth with the engineers about the best place within a three square inch section to put three words,” the CEO reported later in a private conversation. “He was that focused on the details of the design.”1

Journalist Tim Scannell once sat down with Steve to do an interview. Halfway through his first question, Steve put up his hand and interrupted to ask what he knew about—of all things—washing machines. Like most of us, the journalist didn’t know much more than how to ...

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