This last 10 days has been focused on putting the finishing touches to the magazine. In an earlier blog I talked about the co-creative process but what struck me this week was one aspect of this process - 'the paying attention to detail'. This was brought home to me in an email from one of the Guest Editors
THANK YOU for making this possible and Jenny too Putting a magazine together is really hard work and requires a massive commitment and super organisation and a lot of attention to detail.
I thought it worth reflecting on the important role that paying attention to detail plays in the co-creation of anything significant. Initially the effort in a co-creative process is in generating ideas and visualising the outcome. Then the focus is on 'development' in our case finding contributors, generating content and making that content relevant to the theme of the issue. While the content is being generated there is of course a process of paying attention to detail and that is the role of an editor but this becomes amplified in the final stages of the co-creative process as we look more critically and become more meticulous in looking at the way the whole and the individual parts relate. The process is a painful but necessary one for the Executive Editor as it requires going over and over the same material again until everyone is happy. But it is an essential process if we are all to feel satisfied with the final product of our creative efforts.
But I was also on the receiving end of someone paying attention to detail this week. I look after my band's website and we have undertaken a major revamping exercise. I had put a lot of hours into it redesigning, changing the content, uploading files, converting file formats and also purchasing a new .uk domain name and I was pleased with the whole thing. Then I invited the members to comment on the changes and I got a whole lot of 'suggestions' and 'demands' for further changes and tweaks that amounted to a lot more work. Some of the suggestions I thought ridiculous but others were right - but overall it was not pleasant and I had the feeling I was being made to do stuff that I felt didn't really matter.. So one man's detail is another's irrelevance. But I made most of the changes and at the end of it all it means that we are all happy with the result not just me.
More generally the idea of paying attention to detail when it matters is important in everyday life neatly summed up in a blog by Gary Blair.
People [often] downplay small details, dismissing them as minutia, the small stuff that we’re encouraged to ignore. But in fact, our entire environment is simply an accumulation of tiny details. Although we measure our lives in years, we live them in days, hours, minutes and seconds. Every action, every detail of our lives–has bottom-line repercussions; and it’s dangerous and derogatory to think of any of those details as trivial, unimportant or inconsequential.1
I suppose the critical thing is to know when it matters and that is a matter of judgement.
If you long to accomplish great and noble tasks, you first must learn to approach every task as though it were great and noble. Even the grandest project depends on the success of the smallest components. Ultimately, the key to quality in every aspect of our lives is doing little things correctly — all the time, every time, — so that each action produces a quality result. When every detail is lovingly attended to, and each step in the process is given complete and careful attention, the end result inevitably will be of the highest quality. Consistent attention to the small details produces excellence, that’s why we must all sweat the small stuff! 1
A theme echoed by Sebastion Barbarito - 'The difference between mediocrity and excellence is attention to detail'2.
Source of ideas:
1 Gary Ryan Blair http://www.everythingcounts.com/pay-attention-to-details/
And then I turned on my TV to witness an extreme example of 'attention to detail'. I know because my son-in-law is in the Blues and Royals and last year he was a member of the Household Cavelry for Trooping the Colour