Every time you think you develop a “fool-proof” system, you will be introduced to a new class of foolish.

Specific versus General….that is the question.  Or at least the one I am asking myself today.

Working through the specifics of a problem allows you to understand all of the various and nuanced facets of said problem.  We can have very theoretical discussions around philosophy, probabilities, customer desires, market dynamics and anything else that comes to mind….and still have no idea how something will come out at the end.  But by discussing the specifics we are able to understand the intrinsic risks.  It takes longer, can potentially be a rabbit hole and may be completely pointless at the end of the day but all in all is usually a useful exercise.  If you know when to cut it off.

The problem with specifics is that it is very difficult to get a specific plan approved.  This particular scenario is not about fools but lends to the point about generalities versus specifics.  Take these two scenarios for the same potential project:

  • I want to sublet the third floor of our building.  To do this I will need to relocate 113 employees from 5 different departments to new desks throughout the building.  41 of these employees will move to a work-from-home HR status.  There will be 12 managers that currently occupy offices that will no longer have offices.  The existing furniture and space will be broken down and rebuilt out to the tenant’s specifications at a cost of $42.37 per square foot.
  • I want to sublet the third floor of our building.  Existing employees to be reassigned space in the building per existing workplace plans and standards.  We will make a profit from building out the space of $2 per square foot over the life of the lease.

Option 1 is very factual but by its very nature invites questions.  “Have you spoken to the 5 departments?”  “Do the 41 employees have the right equipment to work from home?”  “Why $42.37?  Can we bring down the cost but charge the same?”  These are all of the questions you have likely worked through prior to submitting the plan for approval.  But by giving too much detail you often can bring about the very delays you are seeking to avoid by providing the detail.

Maybe my title for this post doesn’t quite address the point I’m making here but I still can’t let it go….


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