The Devil is in the Details-How Subtle Differences can be Important

Some of us are detail oriented while others are more focused on the big picture.  Both are important, but there are times when being more detail oriented can be a major differentiator.  I had a personal experience yesterday that brought this home to me.

I was getting ready to meet with a potential client when I noticed that the pants I had on were brown and not gray.  You may say “so what” but I don’t find that brown pants go so well with black shoes, black socks and a black belt.

While this did not cause any type of major disruption, it did bring to mind how important checking and double-checking details can be.  Let me share a few life-or-death areas where subtle differences can make a major difference:

  • Patient medication dosage
  • Tire inflation pressures
  • Food ingredients (those that contain nuts or are served to individuals who need gluten-free diets)
  • Language translation

The list could be much longer, but the key issue is that details matter in everything that we do.

My work involves helping clients find the right candidate for mid to senior level roles in a variety of industries.  Looking at resumes to compare skills and experiences is just a small part of the work we do.  The real issues arise when we work to establish “organizational fit” for our client with those who meet the basic requirements.  Finding the right fit involves both understanding the behaviors and preferences in addition to the required skills and experiences.  This fit may involve how someone makes decisions, their preference in working independently versus working with others, what their primary motivators are and how they gather and process information.  The list can be long, but knowing the key items can mean the difference between success and failure in the client organization.

We see the same issue when we work to help organiations develop their internal talent.  Many leaders are not as self-aware as they may believe, and understanding how you are perceived by others will rule the day regarding success or failure in a collaborative or managerial situation.

Details are important.  If you see that you can overlook details often, find ways to overcome that internal bias and make your own adjustments.  It also pays to surround yourself with others who have complimentary skills, behaviors and preferences.  No team is successful if everyone is wired the same way.

Know yourself-know others; by doing so, your opportunities for success will be greatly enhanced.