August 25, 2022

Being the Trim Tab

“Why are we not better than we are?”

‘Frost in the Fields’ Eric Trethewey

It’s often hard to see how to you can add something useful or valuable to a big project when all the Big Decisions have been made.

Or that everyone else seems to have grabbed the limelight with Big Ideas.

If you’ve struggled with that problematic sense of not feeling like you’ve added any value (or can see a way that you could), maybe it’s time to rethink how impactful even the smallest things can be. Small details which the Alpha Project Leaders might, might, just have overlooked.

Because tiny details can make a world of difference. I’d not come across the ‘trim tab’ before, but then I’ve not designed an aeroplane or a ship. Trim tabs are small surfaces added to trailing edges with the result that they exert enormous control over the whole flying (or sailing) machine.

These tabs exert maximal effect with the most minimal of means, as they are further from the ‘axis of rotation’ (or the Key Client Meetings, if you prefer.)

If you needed convincing, Buckminster Fuller had ‘Call me Trim Tab’ engraved on his gravestone. He saw how something so seemingly insignificant could be a metaphor for how we can make things (and ourselves) better.

Sometimes it’s not more strategy that’s needed. It’s a small executional and crucial thing that makes for better. Having an eye for the small stuff will make lots of better, and for you too.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

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