• 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

Fast Food And Thoroughness Don’t Mix – Unless You Are Thorough

A couple weekends ago my family and I stopped to get some food at a fast food restaurant while on a road trip. We went in and ordered food to go and while I was grabbing condiments and getting my self-service drink, they filled our order and my teenage son went to the counter to pick it up. I was very happy to see him open the bag to check the order; my son doesn’t usually have this kind of foresight, so I was quick to praise him for doing so.

About 5 or 10 minutes later my wife was pulling my food out of the bag when she noticed something wrong with the order – they forgot the two orders of nacho chips. There were two containers of nacho cheese, but they had forgotten to include the two bags of nacho chips. Disappointed I said to my son, “I thought you checked the order” He replied, “Yes, but I didn’t know what everyone ordered.”

It should be no surprise that fast food and thoroughness do not go together, there were several examples of this on display the night we didn’t get our nachos. “Fast food” is the first indicator that thoroughness could be lacking: thoroughness takes time; it takes work, it takes effort to be thorough.

Clearly the person filling our order lacked thoroughness. I know we ordered two nachos and I know the person taking our order indicated that we had ordered them - because we at least got the cheese - however the person putting items in the bag didn’t take the time to review the order, to count the items (or at least count them correctly.) 

I could have been more thorough as well, by taking the time to check in the bag myself, even though my son had already done so, but I was so busy praising him for reviewing the order I wasn’t focused on whether he had all of the right information to make the assessment of whether the order was complete. I asked the wrong question: I asked, “Is it all there?”; I should have asked, “Is everything we ordered in the bag?” This “right” question would have led him to give me the information I needed, that my son didn’t really know what all had been ordered.

Lastly, my son could have been more thorough by just assessing what he saw a little better: why are there two containers of nacho cheese – isn’t something missing here?

Taking time and effort. Asking the right questions. Being intentional to understand what is happening to make sure the outcome is the one you would want or expect given the circumstances. These are ways to make thoroughness work for you. These are also the things that make being thorough difficult.

Thoroughness is a valuable tool and trait, but it must be applied judiciously in the correct manner. We have to understand the outcomes that matter and pay close attention to the details related to those outcomes because there are just as many details that have the power to distract our time and energy away from what really counts.


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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