Lesson Learned: Attention to detail and high standards matter.

Alan Gilbert
2 min readFeb 27, 2023

This blog post is part of a series of leadership lessons that I have learned from 40 years in tech.

This week’s post is short and sweet.

The leader of a company always sets the standard for attention to detail. It’s only natural that the rest of the company levels up to the leader’s standards and certainly won’t exceed them in a sustainable way. The leader needs to set the standards, live them every day through behavior and example, and ensure that other leaders do as well. These high standards should be ingrained in the company’s DNA, and propagated through the organization, all the way to the customer.

Apple has long been the canonical illustrative example of how this has been ingrained into the culture and brand of a company at every level. It shows up in their products (both hardware and software), packaging, retail experience, web experience, customer service, marketing, and even their buildings. Are they perfect? No. But attention to detail is, in large part, why Apple is one of the most successful companies ever.

At one company where I worked, the founder would review our marketing videos frame by frame. Some thought that was obsessive and excessive, but I appreciated it. He also made us find a way to block the BIOS boot text from our product screens, when you first powered them on, because it “looked like amateurish crap.” That attention to detail allowed us to beat our competition even though they were 20 times our size. It also created products that are still generating revenue 20 years later.

Of course, there are companies that are plenty successful and don’t pay much attention to details. Like… any cable company. But those aren’t places where I want to work.