The Final Yard

This is a reprint of an article posted in 2004 after the Red Sox won the World Series. -Editor

Our work is just like this: The last 5% of the job is tougher than the previousWork  95%.

This assertion is my attempt to break it to you gently; truth is, THE LAST 2% OF THE JOB IS TOUGHER THAN THE PREVIOUS 98%.

It has been a long, bitter season, full of back-stabbing and shocking turn-arounds that have left our nation splintered as the world watches in disbelief. After a tireless battle the unthinkable (for some) has happened and finally, Americans (half still in shock while the other half remain insufferably drunk with victory) can get on with more important things.

Yes, now that the Red Sox have finally won the World Series, we can get back to football!

Though I’m no expert, I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon: the team with the ball quickly runs it most of the way up the field until they get to the one-yard line at which point, they appear to hit a brick wall.

Could there be some as yet unidentified law of physics works against the advancing team because the harder they push, the more forcefully they are deflected?

Our work is just like this: The last 5% of the job is tougher than the previous 95%.

This assertion is my attempt to break it to you gently; truth is, THE LAST 2% OF THE JOB IS TOUGHER THAN THE PREVIOUS 98%.

Equipment installations fly like the wind until the final fit-and-finish items. Computer OS repairs are a breeze until it comes time to install and configure the users’ custom apps and preferences. Even construction projects, despite delays, appear to proceed briskly until grinding to a halt when all that remains are a few simple punch list items.

What does it all mean?

Picasso once said that a true artist never finishes his work, he merely abandons it. While his observation may hold water in the art world, abandonment of the objective is not the name of the game in football — and it certainly should not be a component of our formal process.

Yet, chronic abandonment occurs nonetheless — insidiously. You know the pattern…

After the third punch list, your equipment installers appear to be physically and mentally incapable of properly affixing a cable label or trimming the rough end of a cable tie according to specification.

You return the user’s laptop with the prescription to "go ahead and install your personal apps at home and call me in the morning" hoping he/she loses interest in taking up all your time.

Months go by and you are unable to compel that electrical contractor to return one last time to the job site to fix that one last light switch.

In football, from what I can tell, it is that final yard that makes the difference between the winners and the losers. A football team racks up no points for running and passing the ball, only for crossing the ball over that one yard line. Please keep this in mind next time you find yourself accepting workmanship that is little more than ‘good enough.’

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One thought on “The Final Yard”

  1. Lots of times I’m way too busy to engage a cold caller. Occasionally I’m up for a chat, and those times I often learn something useful. For example a rep from a UPS firm reached out to me. Normally I don’t deal with power back up, but just then I thought it might be useful to know what it would cost to provide backup power to an AV rack and a projector for, say, an hour. The rep helped me estimate how much amperage I was drawing and gave me a credible cost figure I could use to start a conversation on AV system backup power. Cool beans.

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