~ by Randy Wagner

Some Tasks Just Don’t Seem Worth the Effort

All of us face a myriad of tasks, seen and unseen, that get our projects done. Sometimes it’s late in the evening; other times it’s just another task in a long list of tasks. We’re all human. It’s tempting to think that no one will be paying attention or that this functionality will almost never be used. Do I really have to take this path to the far end? At the end of the day, will it really matter to anyone?

An Inspirational Story on Why Your Efforts Do Matter

Whenever I find myself in that moment, I think of a story told to me by the chaplain at Dover Mortuary Affairs Operations. That’s where the bodies of US service men and women—who were killed in the line of duty—are cared for and prepped for the funeral rites chosen by their families. It is a solemn place where even mundane tasks are freighted with honor and respect for the ultimate sacrifice.

Preparing the Final Uniform for Our Service Members

The chaplain related that he stopped in at the uniform shop, where the final uniform for each deceased is very carefully assembled. At one end of the room, for each service branch, a mannequin stands in full uniform serving as a visual guide. On the long wall hangs every rank, insignia, and medal available. I was fortunate enough to stand in that room and it is, not surprisingly, deeply emotional to observe and absorb. The work product matters to the military and civilian personnel assigned there. Creases must be absolutely perfect. The ribbon rack must be exactly placed and conform perfectly to that service member’s awards. Regardless of service branch, the unspoken rule is that each person will do their very best to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice with the uniform they create.

Striving for Absolute Perfection Even When Nobody Else Will See Your Work

The chaplain said he spoke to a young man putting the final touches on a Marine’s uniform. The worker relayed how he really struggled to get the ribbon rack in exactly the right spot on the uniform tunic. After repeated attempts, he said he finally realized that the tunic pocket that the rack was measured against was slightly askew. He carefully removed the pocket and stitched it back precisely so that when the ribbon rack was attached, everything was absolutely perfect.

The chaplain offered that surely the family would appreciate the level of care that this young man put into crafting an impeccable uniform for their loved one.

The young man looked up and said, “Oh, the family won’t ever get to see this. This Marine is being cremated but he will go out wearing a perfect uniform.”

It’s an extraordinary statement of excellence. Not only would no one else see this uniform but it would be destroyed in the cremation process, but it was done right.

Deliver Excellence Every Time Because It Matters to Someone

Sometimes our project efforts make a visible impact. Well done requirements, code, and testing are frequently appreciated. Equally, we may do extra work to make sure things are right so that no one will see. At the end of the day, it always matters to someone. And that someone might just be ourselves. Make yourself proud with the work you deliver, regardless of the rest of the world.

Randy Wagner is Director of Quality Assurance for CastleBay Companies. He has 20 years of consulting experience across private and public sectors, Guidewire InsuranceSuite, InsuranceNow, and Duck Creek, with specializations in quality assurance, project management, configuration management, and automation.