Beyond the Build

Management

Devil in the Details

Several years ago, I wrote a post about Van Halen’s contract with their promoters. They have a clause in their agreements stating that the band should always be provided with M&Ms backstage, and none should be brown. The devil is in the details.

At first glance, this may seem a bit eccentric, but if you think about it, the “no brown M&Ms” clause is a brilliant, low-tech solution for determining if the promoters actually read the contract agreements. If the bowl of M&Ms backstage has the wrong color candy, the production company probably is not paying enough attention to what is a simple detail. It then seems fair to question what else may have been neglected of the larger details?

I sometimes think about how can I find the “brown M&Ms” or predictors of how things are going on our projects. Are submittal logs up-to-date? Are there red marks on the plan review copies? When problems are small, they are like camp fires, which are easier to deal with than bonfires. More times than not, if beginning details, no matter the size, are followed in the agreements, the result is better projects for all.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.