Being Human: Advancing Humanity by Paying Attention

When Boeing was planning their new 787 Dreamliner, they  planned big and embraced the global market.  Rather than keeping their blueprints and components in house, they outsourced 30% of the components of the plane (compared to 5% on other craft).  They were seeking efficiency (by giving other companies a lot of the work designing components) and they were seeking savings (by taking bids for the cheaper parts in other countries across the globe).  What happened?  They are now behind schedule and it is costing them a furtune.  Other companies made parts that didn’t fit.  Some were unable to “meet quotas” (LATimes – link above), meaning manufacturing would cease until parts could come in.  And all of this because Boeing stopped doing one thing for its own planes – they stopped Paying Attention to the details.

Good work and good products are not as hard to produce as some people think.  If someone has a passion to do something, communicates the vision, and is able to pull together the resources to start its production – something is going to happen.  But success or failure still depends on the ability of that person or a group of people to hold those making the product accountable to Pay Attention to making something of Quality.  Whether it is an engine or a Big Mac – standards need to be thought out, rules brokered, guidelines made – all so that you reduce the issues of bad quality products that have to be scrapped.

I remember working and building a team for the sound booth at my last youth group.  You could teach a student to use a computer, how to use Mediashout, and how to make a script of videos and scripture for the talk. You could teach them to edit film, and how to que the stage when there was a problem.  But time and time again, with every student I taught – the hardest thing to teach was how to Pay Attention.  Every new tech member had a terrifying moment when they realized that they had not been paying attention and there was now a problem.  A log jam of issues now presented themselves and the stress mounted.  The student either kept a cool head and improvised and got things back on track – or they freaked out and yelled something out and the speaker had to make due for a while.  But if attention had been kept, the show would have gone on, and no one would have noticed.  Quality is a direct result of paying attention.

There are so many things we can daydream about.  And we could die doing nothing but daydreaming and producing nothing worthwhile.  We are all taught to dream, but eventually you have to write down what you see in your head.  You have to make a plan.  You have to tell others.  And then at that point, you have to implement the plan with as much careful and detailed attention as you possibly can.  Even if that product fails, if you put your blood, sweat, and tears into the project – it is worthwhile.  A million failures and one win is still a win.  So pay attention to what you are doing.  Don’t let others who are be the only ones who make the world change for the better.  Do something well.

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