Attention to detail
Attention to detail
Posted by Paul Deegan

Thursday, 30 Apr 2009 13:40

It’s easy to think that staying focused on the big picture is the primary key to success when it comes to successfully completing an ambitious project like the Catlin Arctic Survey.

But in reality, once the expedition is up and running, it’s the little things that make all the difference.

I served as one of Pen’s two UK base camp managers during his successful South Pole expedition a few years ago. I remember working in Pen’s office a few days before departure. One of the tasks I attended to involved using duct tape to seal small plastic bags packed with food and supplies. Pen noticed I was taping up each bag in the normal way by pressing down on a square of the sticky, silver tape.

Pen showed me a different method. He created a glue-free flap by sticking a half-inch of one edge of the tape against itself. This enabled the bag to be easily opened whilst wearing mittens.

At the time, I found this extra step in the process somewhat frustrating. The clock was running down, I had dozens of bags to secure, and we had a hard deadline to meet. But on reflection, I realised that the extra time that this additional procedure swallowed up would not just save Pen precious minutes in sub-zero temperatures. It might just save his fingers too.

Without a big vision, nothing worthwhile would ever begin. Without attention to detail, nothing valuable would ever be completed.

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