Details Matter


There is a rumour about Steve Jobs.  It is alleged that he sacked an employee at one of the first Apple stores.

Why?  Because she bought cheap and nasty plastic bags for customers to take their expensive purchases home in.  The story may be a complete fabrication, but history has shown that Steve was right to be picky.

Details matter.

And Clean Trains

In the Netherlands they had a problem…  Litter on trains.  You wouldn’t believe it would you?  The Dutch are such lovely people.

They tried a whole host of solutions:

  • More guards, too expensive
  • Closed circuit TV, easily vandalised
  • Signs and stickers, simply ignored

But they found a solution, they sprayed citrus scent throughout the carriages.  If it smells clean people will keep it clean.

Details matter.

How does it feel if…

  • You are sitting in a meeting and everybody is looking at their phone? — Perhaps you could ask them to leave their BlackBerries at the door.
  • The log in for that internet store is frustratingly clunky? — Shouldn’t they leave a cookie on your PC so it is seamless?
  • The toilets are dirty in the expensive restaurant? — Maybe it would be a good idea to break out the Domestos.

Details matter

To both your customers and your employees.  Fortunately the details aren’t too expensive to fix.

How are your details?

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Rubbish on the train

Listen to another opinion

Image by Drift Words


  1. James,
    I’m a great believer in solving the little things before embarking on tackling the big things….cheaper, faster and quicker RoI. I wonder why more firms don’t do more of this?


  2. I am astonished at how few people return calls or emails (and I don’t mean speculative sales calls). I find that about 50% of my contacts go unreturned even when I am buying or already a customer.

    If there’s one way to get a bad reputation, it’s failing to get the details right – you’re right to call this out, James.

  3. Hello James,

    Yes details matter. And only those who truly care about that which is at hand pay attention, genuine attention, to the details. The rest of us are happy to go with the flow and do the minimum that is acceptable in a given set of circumstances. We are enmeshed in a culture where speed is of the essence and we are torn amongst many competing activities that require our attention. And as such we do the minimum that needs to be done to keep all the plates spinning. Besides who cares what happens in the back office when we can spin anything we want in the front office?

    All the best

    • James Lawther says:

      Yes Maz, that is an interesting perspective. Why do so few people take pride in the job?

      • Hello James,

        It occurs to me because the job shows up as a job: something that one does to earn the money. Which means the real target is the money. And so the least effort to get at the money the best. Anything else is foolish. And also because everyone else is doing the same – at least the conviction that everyone else is doing the same.

        Now think of those people, whose ‘job’ does not show up as job. Instead it shows up as their identity or a vital part of their identity. We are attached to identity; identity is us. So we pay attention, even take pride, in that which constitutes our identity.

        All the best

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