Attention to details is not “glamorous” for most of us. Of course, a great strategy is critical to your competitive edge. And so is paying attention to details better than your competitors do. If you are not going that extra mile, you might be making success a lot harder to achieve. Author David Grieve shares a lesson learnt early from his father's sheep farm.
I grew up on a farm in north western New South Wales, and for me it was one of the best groundings in life you could have. To this day I relate many of the things I observed and experienced as a child to business, both my own business and that of my clients.Take weeds, for example. On our farm, weeds, specifically burrs and thistles, were a major problem – in particular, the Bathurst Burr, among the most common and economically damaging weeds in all Australian agriculture. It sticks to the wool of sheep, and wool contaminated by Bathurst Burrs is a substantial cost to the wool grower. It requires expensive additional processing to separate it from the wool. The burrs increase operational costs and lower efficiency. And as they damage quality, they lower the value of sales. So, do you have "burrs" in your business?
Since my father was a woolgrower, Bathurst burr was a major issue. As children, we were often sent out with a hoe to chip Bathurst Burr along the outside of the cultivation paddocks and roadside. Call it character building. However, compared to other properties in the district, our farm had relatively small amounts of this burr.Indeed what made a difference was not our childhood efforts chipping weeds along the roadside! It was my father’s attention to the small details that mattered. He was constantly on the lookout for burrs. Out horse riding, whenever he saw a Bathurst Burr he would dismount and pull it out. As children we were fascinated by this obsession of eradicating Bathurst burrs and would loved to point them out to him if he missed burrs. This was very rare: as an Australian bushman, he had excellent eyesight.
Attention to the burrs, taking responsibility for removing them was part of the culture of my father’s farm.By comparison, my school friend Graham, who also lived on a farm, had a different experience. I can remember his father’s place having far more burrs than ours. Like my father, his father would often send him out chipping burrs. However, his father became ill, was hospitalised and became unable to walk around his farm and keep burrs under control.What was the difference? The answer is obvious – and important: the difference was the constant attention, often on a daily basis, to keeping the burrs under control. And when the farm owner cannot do it, someone still has to be accountable for that attention to detail.This is just like managing a business, and is the lesson for managers and business owners, whatever the size of your business.
Managing is not about platitudes, big schemes and projects. It is about constant attention to detail, constantly seeking ways to improve… every single day.As a manager, how good are you at keeping the burrs in your organisation under control? Are you doing everything 100% better than the competition, even the little things? What is or could be derailing you, hurting your profitability, your growth, your brand image…? Could you improve your efficiency, effectiveness, customer satisfaction, staff engagement… by taking care of critical little details? Have you created an environment that emphasises the importance of accountability?As members of The NCP we are experienced in identifying the burrs in your business, and in working with you to remove them and improve the performance of your business.For an obligation free chat, contact David Grieve directly or get in touch here