God Is In the Detail

The leaders of all organizations have a duty to ensure that their plans, guidance, decisions, and the processes that govern activities actually work in the best possible ways to serve the needs of customers and employees.  In order to do that, leaders, especially senior leaders in large organizations, must understand how things work at a reasonable level of detail so there is confidence that they actually do work.  The company, its employees, and customers all deserve to know that those making the decisions have invested the time and thought necessary to appreciate and comprehend the mechanisms and actions they have set in motion.  And to answer the question; “Will this really work?”

It’s surprising how many senior leaders believe that involvement in and understanding of the workings of their own decisions and plans are somehow beneath them or the exclusive province of their staffs or line managers.  We see this kind of “thinking” from political candidates who espouse simplistic “solutions” for enduring national challenges like border security.  They would have us believe, for example, that it’s possible to completely seal the entire border of the U.S., an unaffordable and impractical task. There are rarely mentions of the root causes of illegal border crossing activity and the recommendation is to build a fence around the country, or at least along significant parts of the border.

Altogether, this kind of reasoning is superficial, casual, and neglectful of a serious problem that deserves thoughtful consideration, deep understanding, and comprehensive plans.  All followed by nuanced policy and detailed security actions that are well understood by the leaders who sanction them.

Big problems take big solutions.  Leaders are playing checkers with a chess opponent when they resort to slogans instead of honest solutions for their companies.  The net effect of a slogan approach to problem solving is to export the problems elsewhere in the organization to be dealt with by others.  There, removed in time and space from the source of the so-called solution, the original problem continues to fester and grow while employees deal with it as best they are able.  Eventually it will return to the leader, worse than ever, and much more difficult to resolve; it’s no way to run a company or organization.

There is a saying that “the devil is in the details.”  This is usually taken to mean that it’s difficult to develop the implementing mechanics of broad prescriptions and concepts.  I agree and also suggest that for leaders, “God is in the detail.”  Detailed, enduring solutions, at the right level, are the prizes and objectives of thoughtful leaders who want to help the organization, its people, and customers succeed.

Keith Stalder, #51

Copyright © 2015 Keith Stalder & Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.

Keith Stalder has over 40 years of leadership experience in organizations from the very large and established to small technology start ups and everything in between. With a broad and deep appreciation for, and understanding of, the fundamental challenges of organizations and businesses, both in government and the private sectors, his passion is to help all organizations become all that they aspire to. He is the founder of Keith Stalder and Associates, LLC, a company dedicated to advancing organizational visions and fundamentally transforming how businesses everywhere are run. Visit www.ksaintegration.com for more information.

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