Adequate vs. Great

There’s a scene in Toy Story 3 where Woody holds up a nametag with the name Daisy on it. It had been attached to a well-traveled bear, but that’s not what makes it special.

What impressed me was how the name, written in black marker, had begun to bleed through the material. Sure, it’s a small detail. Pixar didn’t have fret over a detail this small. Few adults, let alone kids would have noticed.


But they did. And that level of detail shows the passion the group at Pixar put into this movie. They didn’t rush the film out the door before polishing the remaining 5%.

It reminds me of Apple products, and it’s no surprise Steve Jobs obsession with details permeates both companies.

Marco Arment wrote a fantastic post called “Great From Day One” that I’ve been thinking about for a few days. He lays out a number of reasons Apple products are great from day one while products like Linux and Android  are always on the cusp of greatness, but never quite there.

Apple and Pixar create great, not just adequate products. Average products don’t create passion. They don’t get users spreading your gospel. They don’t build community.

Polishing the last 5% can often be the difference between a merely adequate product and a great product.

If you’re in a service business, do you hire the best people? Or do you hire average people and hope your customers don’t notice the difference? I experienced this at a Verizon store a while back. The store was brand new. The displays were full and decor was modern. 95% of the experience was great. But when I had a few questions, I knew more about the phones (and it wasn’t much) than the employee did. Employee training was the 5% Verizon skimped on. 

Do you create great products from day one? Or are you always one update, patch or release away from greatness?

If not, you open the doors to a competitor to jump in and redefine greatness. Adequate doesn’t cut it anymore.

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