Why attention to detail is so important

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Commentary by Lt. Col. Trevor Nitz
437th Airlift Wing Safety chief

12/1/2006 - CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- If you have been in or around the Air Force for a while it is likely that one of your commanders or supervisors has touted the value of having exceptional "attention to detail." But what is "attention to detail" and why is it something you should practice?

Attention to detail can be defined as "being thorough in accomplishing a task with concern for all areas involved, no matter how small." Individuals can exude this quality in a myriad of ways: in one's personal appearance, in what you say and most markedly in the performance of your duties.

I believe two of the most important bi-products of a culture of attention to detail are efficiency and safety. Both of these characteristics bring value to the organization by increasing productivity and protecting our most precious resource - our people.


Imagine processing paperwork like performance reports or repairing a mechanical component in your work center. If someone accomplishes a task less than wholeheartedly and presents an incomplete product to a co-worker or supervisor that individual then has the responsibility to either complete the original task or return the product to the original worker. In either case time is lost and effort is wasted. Had the first worker meticulously completed the task, the next individual in the process would be able to perform their task unimpeded by the burden of doing someone else's job. If your co-worker or subordinate presents you with quality and complete work it makes your job and the job of each subsequent worker in the process easier. This leads to increased efficiency.

It is this aspect of attention to detail that can enable us to endure and even excel during the impending personnel reductions. The concept itself embodies the Air Force Smart...

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