"The devil is in the detail."
We hear this all the time. Catchphrases such as this can mean everything and nothing at the same time. It suggests that we must take great care to scrutinize the detail of a project or proposal lest it fail.
An older version of the phrase is that God is in the detail. Here we are advised to pay attention to detail because that's where success lies. Both success and failure it seems emerges from paying attention, or not, to the small stuff.
Another idiom involving the devil is "better the devil you know than the devil you don't." Mash the two together and you get "better the detail you know than the detail you don't."
Ours is a liminal world: a time of ambiguity and disorientation before a new way of thinking. We see this everywhere. Many modes of explanation in many professional fields have been demonstrated to be, if not untrue, then at least misleading. 'Excessive truth claims' can be found everywhere.
Troubling times. So no wonder that we, who have a great dislike for uncertainty, stick to the detail we know to describe our world. It's comfortable this way and, when we think about how much of our world is configured to the past, what choice do we have?
Well, we always have a choice. How we choose to frame a topic will determine how we act and our results.
If both the devil and God have an interest in detail, where do we find God?
Detail is either known or unknown, and relevant to the future or not. The devil likes the known but irrelevant detail. God likes the unknown and relevant detail. If we are fortunate our world has a healthy amount of the known and relevant.
The task of change professionals is to move from the known to the unknown and stay relevant.