Biggest takeaway: We underestimate how hard it is to develop high standards:
You must have realistic expectations for how hard it should be (how much work it will take) to achieve that result
A short story to back this up:
Here’s what we’ve figured out. Often, when a memo isn’t great, it’s not the writer’s inability to recognize the high standard, but instead a wrong expectation on scope: they mistakenly believe a high-standards, six-page memo can be written in one or two days or even a few hours, when really it might take a week or more!…The great memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. They simply can’t be done in a day or two
Customers are easily dissatisfied and their expectations are ever-rising.
People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary”
High or low standards are both contagious:
High standards are contagious. Bring a new person onto a high standards team, and they’ll quickly adapt. The opposite is also true. If low standards prevail, those too will quickly spread.
High standards are domain-specific. You can’t know all the areas that require high standards :
…you have to learn high standards separately in every arena of interest….You can consider yourself a person of high standards in general and still have debilitating blind spots.