Monday, August 20, 2012

Top Tips to Deal with the Devil in the Details

It is not uncommon to hear about big problems that have been caused by the lack of attention to details (ATD). An important document incorrectly sent to an unauthorized recipient because of a typo in the email address, a kitchen floor plan design not considering the size of the equipment that needs to eventually fit in the kitchen, a small distraction while driving leading to a fatal accident and loss of lives - these are some of the many examples around us.

I believe that the grandest of tasks depend upon the success of the smallest elements. If small things do matter, what is the best way to pay attention to details?

Here are my top 10 tips to improve attention to details:

1. Organize yourself and plan for everything including the small details. 
2. Write down important things; don’t always rely on your memory.
3. Create checklists of items you need to look for in the final output.
4. Take help from a colleague or friend for a review/double-check.
5. Don’t expect machines to be perfect; machines make mistakes all the time.
6. Don’t attempt to multi-task when doing critical jobs. Concentration is the key to  details.
7. Observe and learn from others on how they focus on smaller things. Ask questions to learn how they do it.
8. Listen carefully and read slowly to absorb and digest everything.
9. Exercise your brain by indulging in brain teasers and games that focus on developing your ATD skills.
10.Paying attention to details doesn't come naturally; train yourself and others you work with.

Remember that every detail matters. As Sanford I. Weill said, “Details create the big picture.”