The Devil Is Not in the Details

I’ve tried to take “just” out of my vocabulary. I got sick of hearing, “why can’t you just move that…” and “couldn’t you just make it like…”

No. I don’t just. Nobody just does anything. That artist you love isn’t just painting. That chef isn’t just cooking. Everything that is asked for takes time. To look at a brilliant marketing strategy, a genius brand or intentional campaigns is to look into hours and hours of detailed work. This color or that? This font or that? This message or that? This close to that thing? Release this date or later? Follow up? With this email or that one?

I’ve watched projects lose all of their spunk by getting bogged down in the details, looking for that devil that’s going to prevent the sale. So I’ve created a list of things to think about when the project is stalled because tiny details can’t seem to get worked out.

1. Because it doesn’t matter to your viewers.

The number one frustration I have found personally is that detail that means so much to someone creating the project means absolutely nothing to the intended audience. Put your priorities on those things that will drive the most success. If having a typo on page 4 prevents success, then you damn well need an editor. However, if your viewers are only 1% likely to click past the first page, you need to spend time on that headline, not poring over every sentence.

2. Because nobody cares about your logo.

Oh boy, do designers not like to hear this one. The truth is, most logos don’t matter. What makes a business stand the test of time is not the design, it is the business. Should you have a great logo? Absolutely. Everything about your brand should speak to your intended messaging. Just don’t go finalizing the logo colors before you come up with a business plan.

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
-Henry David Thoreau

3. Because it won’t be around that long.

Like it or not, we live in a consumable world. If you are creating a logo, it needs to last the life of the business. If you are creating an email, it needs to last a week (at most). If you are creating a tweet, 18 whole minutes. Consider the channel and spend as much time on it as is appropriate.

4. Because it’s not something you’re good at.

I am not good at tweeting. An 18-minute world is too fast for me. But I admire so many of those who do it well. So I’m going to hire someone to live in that world. And I would hire the editor for the client that needs reports with no typos.

So you should really let it go.

I’m not saying sloppy is ok. We see that too much and not only in small businesses. Details absolutely matter and can make or break a plan. But don’t let the details get in the way of delivering. In the theme of agility, letting go is truly a driver. There are too many things to perfect so deliver it imperfectly, whatever it is, and keep some budget for after delivery.

Focus on the priorities, even if it feels irresponsible to let go of perfection.


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