Finishing the back of the drawer

I wish I could take credit for the title of this post. It was inspired by Sir Jonathan Ive’s response about how Apple is relentlessly committed to the quality of its products.  

Ive states: “Sometimes [Apple designers are] very close to a problem and we’re investing incredible resources and time trying to resolve the smallest detail that is way beyond any sense of functional imperative… and we do it because we think it’s right.”

“It’s the ‘finishing the back of the drawer’ – you can argue that people will never see it and it’s very hard to, in any rational sense, describe why it’s important but it just seems important. It’s a way that you demonstrate that you care for the people that you are making these products for. I think we see ourselves as having a civic responsibility to do that. It’s important. It’s right. It’s very hard to explain why.”

He’s right; it’s hard to explain, but I believe it’s the way it should be.

Apple’s commitment to quality is the reason millions of Apple customers are loyal and exceedingly satisfied with Apple products. It’s this same desire for quality that drives an artist to practice the violin until her fingers bleed. It’s the cabinet makers countless measurements to ensure his cabinets are perfectly square after construction. It’s the athlete’s determination and tireless hours of free throws or extra laps up and down the pool which eventually lands him a spot on the summer Olympics team.

As one person said, “Character is how you act when no one is looking.” Or to use Ive’s analogy, it’s finishing the back of the drawer – even when no one (except you) will ever know.

Patrick Goodman
Red e App Product and Engagement Lead

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