Are we losing the ability to mind the details? I don’t think so, but maybe!
Chalk this one up to amusement, but I ran across an article today that explains how the state of Oklahoma recently adopted “loser pays” for attorney fees in all civil suits.
That’s a big deal. A really big deal.
But it was “unintentional.”
Yes, no kidding. A bill was voted on, passed, and signed into law by a state legislative body and executive. And, its effects were unintentionally broad. Here’s an article on this doozy. The key quote:
The amendment, written by state Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, was intended to apply only to civil cases involving child sex-abuse.
But the amendment had a broader impact, according to the Senate author of the bill, state Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City. “Upon a closer reading of the amendment, it seems evident that it makes all civil cases … loser pays,” Holt told the World. “But nobody caught that.”
But nobody caught that…
We are talking about a massive change in liability for legal fees. And the response is, essentially, “oops.”
Well, luckily the Oklahoma legislature can change it.
But it raises the question: Are we suffering from a societal migration away from what one of my favorite coaches used to call “attention to detail?”
When a legislature can pass a bill through multiple steps and have such a big miss, imagine what details are being missed in your company or in daily life. You need look no more than your web browser to see the effect of lowering standards for attention to detail. Today’s news media are a caricature of the phenomenon, where we are constantly barraged with half truths and partial lies, no matter where you stand on the political spectrum.
In most pursuits, details matter. In critical ones, they matter a lot. When you are acquiring a company or putting together the biggest sale of your life, it’s rarely ok to say “let’s let the lawyers handle that.” In Oklahoma’s case, the law can be changed. That’s not so when you forget to vet the representations and warranties in your purchase agreement!
Nirvana on attention to detail is challenging. I’ve known many people consumed by the details. The trick, I find, is to combine the accountant’s eye for detail with the artist’s eye for completeness. You have to get the details right, but also be able to notice what’s missing. You have to see the forest and the trees, as it were.
The best strategists that I know are able to master this art.