An old nursery rhyme (composed by that prolific writer, Author Unknown) reads:
“For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the rider was lost.
For want of a rider, the battle was lost.
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost.
And all for want of a nail.”
The tiniest of details often generate unexpectedly large results. If the littlest detail is right, the results can be wonderfully good: David the shepherd boy needed only one small stone from a creek bed to topple a giant more than nine and one-half feet tall. If the littlest detail is bad, unthinkable disaster can occur: Adam and Eve ate a couple of pieces of fruit and destroyed the world as they then knew it.
Anyone who has ever worked in accounting or computer programming knows the true magnitude of small details. A pair of digits transposed, or a single decimal point out of place, can create an accountant’s worst nightmare. A single incorrectly typed character can derail an intricate computer program. (My programming knowledge is next to nonexistent, but I manually generate most of the HTML code for the Web sites I develop. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed one incorrect key and disabled an entire Web page!)