I remember being in my first year at school and seeing a group of boys build a boat using Lego. “Idiots” I thought, as they built columns of the ships hull one brick directly on top of another. “They should crisscross them like they do with houses”.
Then the insult came: their boat was displayed during assembly because of how good it was. I was frustrated. Not angry, frustrated. Because in my mind, design had obvious principles for building better things – and surely everyone knew them. To not follow these golden rules of design was somehow a transgression against the very order of nature itself.
20 years later and I’m still the same, getting frustrated over bad design. If you’ve read a little about me, you’ll know that I have (as described above), an obsessive fascination for details, which my wife actually considers to be an acute form of OCD. When I sit down anywhere, I like to neatly arrange everything in a grid – whether it be knives and forks, computers, paper pads, or furniture that “clearly hasn’t been thought through”.
There’s no branding gem here that I’m trying to get across – although businesses reading this would do well to consider, ‘how is our brand design?’ – but to simply introduce you to my burden for detail. In reading Malcom Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point“, Gladwell makes the point very well that ideas/pandemics/revolutions tip not through one great event, but through the culmination of smaller, incremental pockets of activity. I agree.
Gladwell’s mantra, “Little things make a big difference”, for me is an update of the bible’s assertion that “it is the little foxes that spoil the vine”. Details matter. In marriage, in business, in friendships, in marketing campaigns, in revolution, in sickness and in budgets, it is the small things that do indeed make a big difference – whether to our advantage or disadvantage.