"Almost" Isn't Good Enough
“If anyone is missing a Lenovo laptop, please come to security check,” announced the loud speakers at Amritsar airport, as we waited to depart for Delhi after a short visit to the breathtaking Golden Temple.
I was pretty sure I had my laptop in my bag, but decided I would still check.
I opened my bag, saw the black neoprene cover, and squeezed the cover to confirm that there was a laptop in there. Reassured, I boarded my flight, landed in Delhi, and drove 4 hours to Agra to see the next stop on our India tour – the Taj Mahal.
Later that night at my hotel, I pulled out my laptop to respond to some emails. “NOOOOOO!!!” I yelled as the weight of the realization came crashing down on me.
I had taken someone else’s laptop!
It was an almost identical black neoprene laptop cover, but it wasn’t my laptop in there. I had checked for a laptop, but I skipped out on the extra 10-seconds needed to make 100% sure that it was the right one. I felt so angry at myself in that moment. It led me to reflect on “attention to detail”, and I have a few ideas to share:
1) Your Mindset
Attention to detail is a skill that top performers often exhibit. There are genetic factors and experiential factors that contribute to each of our levels of this skill. However, it also can be developed and improved with intention and action.
Assuming that a high attention to detail and quality of work contributes to success in your role, how committed are you to making progress in this area? It starts with your mindset.
2) The Skill is in Your Process
If you ask any Six Sigma experts, they’ll confirm that quality comes down to the process, not necessarily the skills of specific individuals. Think about the situations that really matter and the steps you take to ensure quality. How can you replicate those across your activities?
Build in planning time at the start of the day to prioritize your tasks (10 minutes of thinking works wonders!).
Use checklists (did you take your regular AND mini HDMI adaptor to the presentation? did you pack your international adaptor for your trip to Europe?).
Commit to an earlier internal deadline so you have space before re-reading important proposals, reports, emails (you’ll find more improvements a day later than you would the same day).
3) Habits Take Time
A boss in one of my first jobs used to hold up pages of my reports in front of the light to ensure that the axes on the graph on Pg. 4 aligned exactly with the graph on Pg. 12, and Pg. 37. And this was for a DRAFT report! We have a laugh about this in our annual catch up, but I am grateful for his insistence on quality as a habit. Habits take time to form – select ONE area you’ll focus on, determine your process, and pay attention to that area until it’s a habit.
Good luck on your journey. Please reach out if I can help you or your sales team CRUSH IT IN 2018! And if you and I ever speak, I’ll tell you the rest of the twists and turns I went through to finally recover my laptop.