Sweat The Small Stuff


A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

I’ve been having conversations lately with leaders about change and not the average garden mill kind.  I’m talking rock your world and turn it upside down kind.  Then when we started discussing change within our staff, I really felt it must be more of a global trend and it got me thinking on how you do sell this kind of change?  Well, conventional wisdom would indicate that those who operate in their own little zone, focusing on what their responsibilities are, and being good stewards of that set of responsibilities are the kind of players that every team member would value having on his/her team.  It doesn’t matter if they don’t see the big picture. They’re dependable and responsible and punctual.  What else could you ask for?

From my experience in leading change and teams the average person does not understand their role in the big picture and I advocate for watching the big stuff and sweating the small stuff because it allows for innovative growth.  If you spend all your time examining the big picture, it’s very likely you’re overlooking the small stuff. I know that “don’t sweat the small stuff” has become a mantra for many.  But if no one is watching the little things, they can all too quickly turn into big things – and then it might be too late to do anything about them.  Let me use another cliche, “the devil is in the details.” In order for you to move your business forward, you need to immerse yourself in the minutiae.

However, you cannot start there because that seems a little like trying to assemble a jigsaw picture without a picture to refer to.  Or maybe it’s like trying to build a house without knowing what it’s supposed to look like when it’s finished.  Or, perhaps, it’s like playing on a team without understanding how our role influences whether we win or lose.

What’s wrong with that?  In this new economy businesses are running lean work forces, churches are stacked with multi-tasking swiss army knifes and it’s easy to just worry about the big picture; since everybody does their part and in the end that’s all that matters.  As long as those in leadership positions understand the big picture, everything will work out all right.  See the problem I see with that kind of thinking is that it is so uninspiring.  It’s not enough to feel that each of us is contributing to the big picture.  I would suggest that knowing how our role helps accomplish the mission is a key ingredient to keeping us inspired to come back the next day and have a sense of passion and a sense of fulfillment which will lead to productivity, innovative growth, and target.

Matt Knisely

Matt Knisely is an Emmy Award–winning visual storyteller, creative director, and author who loves telling stories of the extraordinary. Make sure you check out his book Framing Faith, it helps connect the seemingly unconnected, see the beauty right in front of us, and revealing how to be present in the moment.

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  1. Word!

    While personally pulling together and building a new website for my church, I stumbled upon 3 mission statements that were actively being used on official documents within our church, and 2 seperate “vision” statements. All of the sudden I realized that I had absolutely no idea what the final picture was and that I had two-sided pieces that could potentially connect together in various ways.

  2. Right with you, most of the clients I have dealt with in the last year don't have an elevator pitch. Sad.