easy to get right, easy to get wrong

A simple question: When is 2/5/13?

It’s not a trick question and the answer is more significant than it seems. Hold that thought, we’re going to come back to it.

Jim Rohn used to say that when something is easy to do, it’s also easy not to do. And that’s the problem. He’d point out that it’s easy to “eat an apple a day” for your health, yet  many people don’t because it’s so easy not to. It’s easy to put off until tomorrow and tomorrow often becomes never.

Likewise, you may have noticed that when something is easy to get right, it’s generally easy to get wrong. We put all kinds of processes and instructions and safeguards around the things that are hard to get right, but assume that the easy stuff will be done perfectly because, well, it’s easy.

So when is 2/5/13? It looks so cut at dried, but the answer is: it depends. If you’re sitting in Frankfurt 2/5/13 is May 2, 2013, but if you’re in Dallas it’s February 5, 2013. In an isolated world that’s ok, but in a globally connected world it matters.

I was watching a video from a Swedish band on YouTube the other day and noticed that there was a link announcing the band was playing at a local(ish) venue on February 5. How cool is that? Truly, if the whole tour schedule had been posted, I wouldn’t have paid it much mind, but as a snippet of the information most pertinent to me, it caught my attention. As I was marvelling at the wonders of this modern age and debating going to the show, I went to the band’s website and noticed that, yes they are playing that venue. On May 2.

Details matter. So easy to get right and so easy to get wrong.

Yesterday, I was digging into the data in our Learning Management System and was having trouble sorting it because some of the items were inconsistently entered. If someone signed up for but didn’t attend a class, the “Post-Status” field was either left blank, marked “incomplete”, or marked “no show”. All mean essentially the same thing, yet aren’t. Data consistency is so easy to get right and so easy to get wrong.

A friend works at a company that just switched payroll providers. Many employees discovered that their expense reimbursements were processed (and taxed) as income. The company that messed it up is a well-known and experienced payroll company who should never make such a simple mistake. It seems so easy to denote income and expense reimbursement differently. So easy to get right and so easy to get wrong.

Or what about the interviewer who swears they will call you with a decision by the end of next week, but never do. Or… or… or… How many examples of great / terrible customer service, HR, leadership, etc. come down to getting the little, simple details right?

So when is 2/5/13?

Your thoughts?

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