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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Archive – Zoom In

Archive – Zoom In

September 6th, 2012

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Over the years I have written several columns encouraging you to step back and try to get a bigger picture of your work and your career. While this is still good advice, reversing this concept can also be useful. There are times when you need to zoom in on your work and inspect the minutia that are often ignored. Not only will this intense focus yield its own reward, it will also help you to gain a deeper understanding of the big picture.

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One at a time

The key to zooming in is to take one item – one form, one web page, one program, one task – and study every aspect of it, down to the last detail. Do you really need that form? Do you really need to do this task? What needs to be cleaned up or upgraded on a server? Do we need it at all? Can it be consolidated? What attention does this one user or one PC need?

Within minutes, you will have an entire roster of tasks, projects and ideas to implement. Some will be specific to the individual item, but, and here is the best point, most of the items will apply to tens or hundreds of similar items across your department or company. Maybe you notice that particular program is out of date. Chances are, many other PC’s have the exact same problem. Does a staff member or co-worker find a form or procedure to be useless or redundant? This is probably true for others, as well.

So, what started out as a narrow focused zoom in has suddenly provided you with a sweeping view of the issues in your company. You might have thought that you were thinking about one small problem, but I find that the small problems are usually big problems in disguise. Like scientists who can see the similarities between water swirling down a drain, a hurricane and a solar system, one thought leads to another and another and another.

Take it home

As you can probably tell, zooming in doesn’t only apply to your work in the office. While you may try to leave your work at the office, this is one aspect you could, and should apply at home, too.

One place to start is with a home utility bill – telephone bills are great for this. Examine the bill carefully, noting every tax, every fee, every line item. I can almost guarantee that you will run into something you do not understand – a fee for some oddly named service, additional costs that should have been free — and more. If you can’t understand what a fee is for, call your company and find out. You will be amazed how many times you find errors, omissions and outright mistakes. Even worse, you will need to check your bills regularly. You have to remember to zoom in or you will miss many of these errors.

Now, take your newfound magnifying lens to other aspects of your life. What services or products are you paying for that you don’t really use? Do you have magazines that continue to pile up even though you never find time to read them? How about satellite television you never watch anymore? There are hundreds of little problems just like this waiting for your attention.

Just as before, though, zooming in on one specific area can lead to major benefits throughout your work and your life. Once you identify problems in your home life, many of these will translate to your work life, as well. Even more, similar problems can have much grander consequences when multiplied by the number of workers you have. One telephone line with extra charges is bad enough, but 100 lines with extra charges can threaten your bottom line.

We all need good balance between seeing the big picture and inspecting the details. Each aspect is equally important and each informs the other. Big problems lead you to small issues and small issues lead you to the big. Don’t forget to zoom in on occasion to make the best use of all the tools at your disposal.


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