Sweating the small stuff

By Editor of SocialBusiness.org

“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is a saying that gets tossed around quite a bit. How do you decide what’s important and what’s not and to what degree? For social entrepreneurs and CEOs of small businesses, there’s often an added element to this because micro-managing sometimes becomes second nature due to the ways in which their professional lives dip into a wide range of the business’ activities from human resources to business development and social media. It’s no surprise, then, that a book like the 1996 bestseller, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… And It’s All Small Stuff, gained so much traction (not to mention the general popularity of self-help literature). But perhaps there’s a different way to look at the so-called small stuff. Vini Bhansali of the International Development Exchange seems to think so. iOnPoverty illuminated this in their newsletter released at the beginning of the month: “Vini shared that one of her first jobs after college was doing in-depth research for a city government in Texas. By sweating the small stuff during her research and ensuring accurate findings, Vini was able to save the city millions of dollars each year – money that was applied to insurance coverage for those who couldn’t afford it. ‘That was a huge lesson for me,’ Vini says. The details matter – and can impact social change beyond what you might imagine.” Is there a balance to be had? Personality matters, I think. It’s important to not only know yourself and how you work but understand how your teammates work as well. What is their individual working style? I know that I can get caught up in teeny-tiny details and merely my acknowledgement of this leads to a more effective and productive working style. But it’s a work in progress. In start-up environments, there’s often an emphasis on getting things done and learning from failure. Perfection isn’t always possible and nor is it always strived for. “Go, go, go” is the name of the game, that is, speediness is privileged. At the same time, however, Vini Bhansali makes a good point. “There is power in the details – in the nerdy, boring work,” she said in the video. I’m sure most editors and writers (like me) would agree. But where social enterprise is concerned, good, solid and maybe most importantly, accurate measurement can create positive social and economic outcomes.

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