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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

The Surgeon

A heart surgeon took his car to his local garage for a regular service, where he usually exchanged a little friendly banter with the owner, a skilled but not especially wealthy mechanic.

“So tell me,” said the mechanic, “I’ve been wondering about what we both do for a living, and how much more you get paid than me.” “Yes?” says the surgeon. “Well as I see it,” says the mechanic, as he worked on an engine, “We both check how it’s running, open it up, fix the valves, and put it all back together so it works good as new. We basically do the same job don’t we? And yet you are paid ten times what I am – how do you explain that?” The surgeon thought for a moment, and smiling gently, replied, “You failed to consider one important DETAIL . . . you don’t fix the engines while they are still running.”

What is Tama County’s economic takeaway from this story?  This heart surgeon points out that you cannot simply make broad assumptions from a 50,000 foot viewpoint – we need to pay careful attention to the DETAILS. This is especially true when running or starting a business; DETAILS are paramount to getting and keeping customers.

Attention to Detail (ATD) takes many forms and functions. In most conventional everyday cases, ATD means paying attention to ALL of the factors that impact your business and its many operational facets.

Take a good look at your store, office, warehouse, work area.  Does it look neat, clean, well-organized, and professional in appearance?  If your answer is NO, what do you think that your customer/client thinks?  Dusts, dirt, unrepaired walls, facilities in need of a can of paint are all detractors from both the customer as well as the worker perspective.  People like to shop and work in facilities that are neat, clean, well-organized, bright and cheery. If your facilities are not that way, that perhaps, is a partial answer to why you are not attracting the volume and quantity of clients/customers that you think that you deserve.  I toured a processing business last week.  Although the facility was old, the floors were relatively clean, the facilities well organized and the office was spotless. The business manifested solid evidence of the pride of the workers and the management team.  Your facilities should do the same.

You might be saying “Heath, I’m just not a DETAIL person, it’s not my nature to be Type A” (You know the people in school who got a 98 on a quiz but argued for the 100) what can I do?”

Rely on Others – If the details bog you down, outsource them! There are services that will do routine tasks for you, you can hire a virtual assistant, you may have an executive assistant, or perhaps someone on your team is much better with the details and can help you out. The first thing to do is to decide what only you can do and what can be done by others.

As we begin to re-build Tama County’ economy let’s all embrace the heart surgeon’s attention to DETAIL so we can build successful companies and a winning economy.


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