Creating Good Quality Stuff

Today was a bit of a sad day for me, my trusty Apple Wireless Keyboard finally gave up the ghost after nearly 12 years of faithful service.

Yeah, you read that correctly, I use the same Apple Wireless Keyboard for over a decade!

In 2006, I bought the first MacBook Pro 17″, all aluminum body laptop that Apple had ever made and decided that I’d go all out and grab the wireless keyboard with it.

It’s funny, I was suffering from pretty severe sleep apnea back in those days and was traveling a ridiculous amount, but I remember my secretary excitedly bringing me the delivery.  Macs in the workplace were still pretty uncommon back then, so I was venturing into the world of complete heresy with this purchase.

That keyboard has served me well over the years.  It survived three different computers – the MacBook Pro, a 15″ MacBook Pro unibody and now the iMac I’m currently working.

I can’t even begin to think how many words of content and stuff that I smashed through on that keyboard – easily in the millions.

I started noticing last week that the space bar was acting a bit flaky – I’d hit the space bar and nothing would happen.  Slowly, but surely the space bar functionality just degraded to the point where this afternoon I was doing some keyword research and found myself absolutely smashing the space bar with my thumb to try and get it working.

Luckily, I’ve had a spare Apple Wireless Keyboard sitting around, totally shrink wrapped for about seven years.  When I bought my iMac, I grabbed a new keyboard and magic mouse to go with it.

I kid you not, this keyboard I’m now using is seven years old and was sealed and unopened.

The thing I’m noticing most?  This new keyboard has a stiffness to it – I’m having to strike the keys a bit harder and they press back against my fingers a bit more firmly.

It’s funny how you notice the little things.

The easy answer would have been to say how clean this keyboard is – after 12 years of use pretty much every day, you could imagine that the old one was a bit grubby and some of the keys had their letters worn off.

The underlying message here though is all about quality.

I’m working on a 2010 iMac with a keyboard that’s sat unused in a sealed box for seven years and when I unwrapped it, I was up and running in under thirty seconds.

The keyboard it replaced was 12 years old and copped a beating during that time.

I’m looking at my shelf where my still functional and reasonably capable 2009 MacBook Pro sits.  The previous 17″ version from 2006 was recycled 18 months ago when we moved house.

Bottom line, this technology is top quality.

You can say whatever you like about Apple, but the engineering and quality of their products are unquestionable.  Their focus on quality is absolutely epic.

Quality survives.

That’s something that we all need to remember and bring into our business.  We should be striving all the time to figure out how to ratchet up the quality with everything we do just an additional 1% or 2%.

I’ve started thinking about this a lot more recently, but this keyboard episode drilled it home for me.  When I create something, I have to create it to last.

I think sometimes we’re all guilty of just trying to get stuff finished.  When that happens we take shortcuts or rush a bit and quality suffers.

But that’s ok!  That happens.  Perfect is the enemy of good enough.

That’s not the end of the story though, it doesn’t have to stay like that.  You can go back, review and revisit your old stuff and make it better.  Raise your quality bar.

This will delight your customers.  They’ll start associating you with that type of quality and that makes it easier to trust you.

And you know what that means?

They’ll keep buying from you AND they’ll tell their friends.

Just like I heaped praised on Apple in this email.

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