• Applying rigorous attention to accuracy and detail
  • Understanding the full scope of an assignment and seeing it through to completion
  • Working to the best of my ability in a comprehensive, correct and timely manner


Demonstrating thoroughness is one of the best ways to deliver high-quality service and to cultivate trust with others. But being thorough doesn’t always come easy. In fact, it rarely does. That’s because it requires working to the best of our ability in a comprehensive, correct and timely manner. I call this the “right question – right answer – right time” standard, and it works like this:

RIGHT QUESTION. Is the person that I am helping asking the right question? If not, then I could provide them with a correct answer to the wrong question. In other words, I might give them the wrong answer, but not because my answer was incorrect, but because they needed an answer to a different question.

A thorough service understands that getting the right question(s) on the table is important. Being thorough requires that we assume that the right question hasn’t yet been asked, or that a better question exists. When I am thorough, I dig deeper to discover the true needs that are being addressed and the right questions that need to be answered.

RIGHT ANSWER. Once the right question is being asked, then we can start to think about the right answer. In my experience, delivering a right answer is almost always harder than it appears. Providing a correct response, even to a “simple question” often times involves layers of knowledge, contextual analysis, and dozens of assumptions.

Take for example, this simple question: What time is it? It should be easy to answer that question, right? Not so fast. The correct answer depends on a lot of factors. What location on the globe are we talking about? Do they observe daylight savings time? Are we talking standard or military time? To what degree of precision should the answer be provided? The hour? The minute? The millisecond? (Not to mention the fact that the time displayed on a clock will vary slightly based on its speed relative to the earth’s surface and its proximity to the center of the planet. I love science!!) Lest I get to far off-track, suffice it to say that even very simple questions can require digging and research in order to find the right answer.

RIGHT TIME. Thoroughness requires that work be done on time. By its very definition, a thorough service is a complete service – and a complete service is completed on time. The best question in the world, followed by the best answer, will be of no value if it arrives too late. Being thorough requires that the right answer to the right question arrive at the right time.


The next time you are helping someone else, try using the “right question – right answer – right time” standard. Find out if the right question is being asked; research the right answer and find out what “right” really means; and bring the process to completion at the right time in order to provide the full value of the service.


Key Words and Phrases

Carried through to completion; Rigorous and exhaustive; Fully developed in all aspects; Having full mastery; Leaving no stone unturned; Painstakingly careful; Seeing it through to the end; Touching all bases; Meticulous, with great care; Attentive to accuracy and detail.

Opposite Terms

Shoddy; Superficial; Partial; Incomplete; Lacking.


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