Some great examples of this come from the world of the internet and ecommerce. Many Indian websites have woefully inadequate user interfaces / user experiences. Yet, there is a wealth of experience in designing user interfaces, especially to increase success in ecommerce. Take a look at this link for example. If you look at the first case study in the article, there was a 30% increase in sign-ups based on a simple wording change. Now, in any business, getting a 30% increase usually takes a lot of hard work. Here is a place where there's easy pickings, but for some reason, very neglected.
Perhaps this TED video from Rory Sutherland has an explanation ! For another great source for small changes making big impacts, read Yes! : 50 Sceintifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive.
It is true that focusing on the details is very boring, and very time consuming. Top management doesn't have time to do things like this. However, any organisation that masters this will quickly have an edge over its competitors, and the edge will expand rapidly.
The Japanese have long figured it out. Their TQM / Kaizen methodology empowers every individual in the company to keep making changes that improve things. That way, the burden of the detail is spread out across a large number of employees. (A side benefit is greater employee engagement !) This comes together in the Learning Curve. Do a thought experiment. If you can, across all the people in your organisation, generate a 1% improvement each week in say productivity through working on the details, in a year, that adds upto a 50% increase in productivity.
This lack of attention to detail is often the reason for the failure of a variety of initiatives. A particularly egregious example from my working days was a Change Management System imposed by the IT department on the rest of the company, which the whole company was resisting violently. When I took a look at the system, it was pretty easy to understand why. The system worked, but the User Interface was like pulling teeth. For example, the user had to specify by when he wanted the change implemented. He had to select first the date from a drop down box - 1 to 31, without any default. Next was the month, followed by the year - 2001 upto 2099, without any default. I kid you not. Next three drop down boxes had the Hours, Minutes and Seconds, also without any defaults. Just specifying all this was more than enough to exhaust 90% of the users. And that was just one small piece of the whole form. You can imagine how unsuccessful that system was. Yet Senior Management was in denial - because not one of them ever used the system themselves.
I'd love to hear from you other examples of great improvements that can be achieved for little cost, or other ways organisations manage to Sweat the Small Stuff.