Don’t Be Scared of the Devil in the Details – Instead, Find an Angel to Help

Sky Capriolo

devil in the details

Ever heard of the saying, “The devil’s in the details?” If you want the “deets” on how it came to being be sure to check out this link. The gist is that even though elements of a plan may seem small and insignificant, each one has the ability to foil the overall results – what a little devil!

You’ve probably heard the saying by author and psychotherapist Richard Carlson, “Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff,” but don’t confuse details as the “small stuff.” Carlson was referring more to emotional small stuff – annoying habits by coworkers, a rude customer or an inconsiderate driver causing stress, anxiety and anger. 

Details can be small – minute even – but in business they each have an important place in the overall picture. Think of all the tiny particulars that go into a space launch at NASA (or any of our new private space exploration companies). Those details are life and death important. The latest project you’re working on might not have that extreme level of mortality, but you get the point; a missed piece of the puzzle can make creating the big picture impossible. 

Find Your Angel

There are just some people who pay attention to detail much more keenly than others. You know the ones: they love to “find the differences” in two photos or can’t wait to look at a “Where’s Waldo” puzzle – it’s fun for them to investigate complex pictures and discover what’s out of place.  If you’re not one of those people, be sure there’s one on your team! 

At Motivation Excellence, we thrive on details for our clients whether it’s for an incentive travel experience or a customer engagement solution. Recently we had a new client, who we set up with a customer loyalty program, tell us how he appreciated our attention to all the “tedious tasks” that would’ve taken him years to get through. He went on to say, “It’s nice to have a hands-off program where you all take care of what needs to happen day to day and I chime in here and there where needed.” Can we get a “Hallelujah!” 

Inside our own organization, we have people who specialize in different areas of detail work. When looking at a proposal for a client, it goes through many sets of eyes before being presented. Some of us catch spelling errors at first glance, others thrive on budget anomalies, still others go over the graphics and question whether they make sense…it’s a team effort when it comes to making sure all the details line up for a great solution. The presentation, after all, tells the story and shows how much we care about how it’s told. 

Be Brave

As a leader in business, it’s critical to have a handle on the elements that create the big picture. If you’re not detail-oriented, don’t fear the devil too much. There are tips you can use to increase your abilities. The Dream Catcher website outlines how to become more detail-oriented. Paying attention to all facets of a project shows you care, but you don’t want to micromanage either. It’s a fine line – walk it safely. 

ThoughfulLeader.com describes finding the balance between wasting time on seemingly unimportant details and losing business to sloppy work.  It really comes down to being able to prioritize and delegate. If you really want to dive into how to prioritize, Zapier.com has nine scientific ways to do it. Maybe just skim it over to see if one of them will work for you. 

A Detailed Summary

Well, it’s not too detailed, but if you are a quick reference type of person, we’ve got just enough details here to quench your thirst. In short, details matter, however, you don’t need to be in charge of all of them or any of them if you have a trusted team at your side. You can be the big picture person – every organization needs them too!

Here is a quick list of getting started on conquering the details. Use it before your next big project leaves your hands. 

  • Know your own detail-orientation level 
  • Find your detail angels – they are real!
  • Allow time to have several people review the work
  • Present to a third party before a client – do the details add up to the big picture you intended for your best friend or spouse?

Good luck! We’ve given you the basics to work with the devil and the angel on your shoulders – they’re both there to help you conquer the small elements so your big picture shines through!