Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Newfoundland Government, Thoroughness and the Little Things

It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen. - John Wooden

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. - Vince Lombardi

As a strong Type A personality who is far harder on myself than I am on others, I constantly strive to do the best job that I can, especially since a bad first impression may become my last opportunity to make any impression at all.  While many people focus on the big things, I often find that the little things matter more (often in subtle ways) and so when I see the small things being done well, I make sure I point them out.

As Ken Blanchard says:

Catch people doing things right and reward them for it.

Organizations that believe in getting the small things right are often the same organizations who get the big things right as well and their results show as they strive to become:

  1. The provider / partner of choice
  2. The employer of choice
  3. The investment of choice

However, when little things are done poorly and the error stands out, it makes me wonder about the work ethic of an organization.

So when I was reading the Newfoundland and Labrador Government’s Style Guide for Government Communications today and saw this on page 1 (the table of contents) ……

Style Guide for Government Communications

……. I stopped reading the document immediately.

It caused me to wonder about the staff that produced such a document of communication guidelines:

  • Are they competent?
  • Are they thorough?
  • Do they care?

The difficulty for me is that when doubt about such things is introduced into a relationship, whether that relationship be formal or informal, explicit or implicit, then opportunity is created to wound or destroy the trust in the participants of the relationship.

When trust is lost, the relationship is lost.

And when relationships are lost …. well … you know.

The Bottom Line

While we tend to focus on big results, it is often the little things that make the big things possible with the big things being an aggregate of the small things. While this is not a reason or justification to get caught up in the minutiae of “petty stuff”, getting the little things right instills a mindset that attention to detail matters.

This mindset sends a strong message to those who interact with us … the message that quality matters and does not look like this.


Do you and / or your organization pay attention to details?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

What would others say?

In service and servanthood,


PS Yes, I know I am being fussy.  I could have noted that the document has many examples of text written in the passive voice when the document clearly states that one must always write in the active voice and never in the passive voice.  The document also contains some painful violations of punctuation and capitalization rules.

I’m not saying I’m perfect but here’s the rub.

If one writes a document citing mathematics, economics and such, then I expect the math to be accurate.

If one writes about history, then I expect the recounting to be accurate.

And if one is going to lecture others about spelling, the passive voice and such, be careful lest the message be immediately discredited when “the expert” violates the same rules. Smile

Especially rules such as this one:

Proofing errors

We often get only one chance to leave a positive first impression!

Make it count.

On a side note, I wonder how much the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador paid for the document. Smile 

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