Paying Attention Now Can Save Headaches Later The Devil's in the Details

We are all taught to “Look at the Big Picture.” That was a common phrase back in the 1980s when managers focused on how their actions resonated with the mission statement and goals of the corporation; whether that corporation was IBM, the U.S. Army, or your condo or co-op building on Park Avenue.

Today, there seems to be heavy emphasis on the idea of “Thinking Outside the Box.”

Who knows what the next overused cliché or buzzword will be—but whether you are a Big Picture kind of person or a Thinking Outside the Box type, two things remain unchanged when running a residential building: The first one is people. And the second one is details.

I am going to spend some time here discussing the latter of the two. Details so often seem to fall between the cracks. I am guilty of not paying attention to detail sometimes, and yet it’s always those small details that crop up at the worst possible time and make life more difficult than it needs to be.

Case in Point

My building is replacing its cooling tower. I discovered last year in late summer that our 30-year-old, 800-ton Baltimore cooling tower was on its way out. My building hired an engineering firm that began collecting data and defined the scope of the work that needed to be done. In October, we started planning for the tower replacement in spring of 2008. By the end of November, we had proposals from the engineer, and the cost was worked into the 2008 budget. In January of 2008, we had the contractor chosen and signed the contract. The tower was ordered from the factory for May delivery, since it takes about five months to complete the manufacture.

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