An expression I don't hear much any more is, “don't sweat the small stuff,” but I absolutely see demonstrations of it everyday. It means don't worry about the details and concentrate on the “big picture.”
Yet, little matters more than the details, because it is the details that determine the quality of the execution, and most great strategies or plans fail, not because they were bad, but because they were executed poorly. Billions in a retail chain with check-out clerks who don't even look at the customer.
The first important business lesson I ever received was from Roger Wright at E.L. Bruce Company. Roger taught me how to break work into the most elementary details, then execute each, then double-check each at the end.
Sounds laborious and slow, but concentrating on details saves time that otherwise would be spent correcting mistakes.
My last boss, before I went into business for myself, was Cooper Adams, who owned a very successful manufacturing company. Leaving late one evening, I saw a light in the mail room. When I went to turn it off, there was Cooper Adams running envelopes through the postage meter.
“I can hire high-priced guys to prepare these multimillion dollar proposals,” he said. “But I have never been able to hire anyone I could depend on to be sure they get in the mail.”
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