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I'm looking for a term to describe someone who loses sight of the big picture because he focuses on the wrong details, for instance:

a sales manager who fires his highest performing sales rep because the sales rep was a minute late to work but doesn't fire the poorly performing sales reps because they have always been on time.

I wouldn't call this person a perfectionist because the poorly performing sales reps are still on the payroll.

I'm basically looking for a term to label someone who doesn't know how to properly assign weights to relevant information when making a decision.

marked as duplicate by user140086, Dan, Nathaniel, Mari-Lou A, Mitch Jan 8 '16 at 20:56

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    It's a "noun", no, it's a "term", It "doesn't have to be in the dictionary", No, it must be in the dictionary, this Corrects an error in grammar made by another editor. No, the previous editor was the OP (and so on)... And the question title asks about a person who doesn't see the big picture. Does anyone else see the irony in this? – Mari-Lou A Jan 8 '16 at 9:44
  • It seems that the OP wanted a NOUN, because the OP excluded "a perfectionist" which is a noun. Can the OP please supply a sentence that shows how this word will be used, leave a blank for the missing word/term/lexical expression/idiom (whatever). E.g. "The bank manager fired the sales rep for a trivial reason, he's someone who ________" (or) "he's such a _______" Could the OP please specify if s/he needs an adjective, noun, idiom, expression, phrase etc.. or if it doesn't matter. – Mari-Lou A Jan 8 '16 at 9:58
  • @Mari-LouA - I don't understand your first comment Does it have something to do with the edits? I just improved an edit proposed by another user(who was not the OP) and later edited the title to be consistent with the body. Hope this clears it up? – BiscuitBoy Jan 8 '16 at 10:42
  • @Rathony I did. I guess I used the wrong key words during my search. – CDM Jan 8 '16 at 10:54
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    Then the question risks closure for being unclear. What term do you exactly want? And my suggestion to provide an example sentence still stands. N.B I limited myself to observing the confusing array of edits. – Mari-Lou A Jan 8 '16 at 11:39

"Myopic" is a fair word for what you're describing. It's not as pejorative as some of the suggestions here, though it's certainly not a compliment. Perhaps it doesn't carry the specific meaning of focusing on the wrong details, but it definitely means "losing sight of the big picture and missing out on other important details", which is very close and might even arguably be the same thing.


If you're looking for an idiomatic expression, a boss who is like this is called a "Colonel Klink" or sometimes just a "Klink," for instance, "Mr. Hayes is a real Colonel Klink and is going to drive this place into the ground." This term is a reference to the character Colonel Klink from Hogan's Heroes, a television show popular in the 1960s.

Aside from this idiomatic reference, you are talking about someone who exercises poor judgment. A person who cannot prioritize is a person who cannot appropriately judge a situation. Terms for this condition abound in English and range from ignoramus to bore. For example, an ignoramus ignores forest for the trees, making poor decisions, because they are an imbecile, whereas a bore willfully ignores the circumstances around themselves to press their own agenda.

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    "Colonel Klink" could be a localised idiom. I don't think I've ever heard of it (in the UK). – Marv Mills Jan 8 '16 at 10:07
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    Yes. Local to America. – Benjamin Harman Jan 8 '16 at 10:57
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    @BenjaminHarman - Posting this here as I can't tag you by commenting on the question. "Can't see the woods for the trees" is an acceptable idiom, and is common in the UK. See comments on ell.stackexchange.com/questions/52230/… – AndyT Jan 8 '16 at 11:25
  • I think it should be mentioned that it's not even local to America. Colonel Klink is a well known character to a certain generation, but it is definitely not an eponym. If you used it, some people might understand what you mean, although not like they would if you were to call someone, say, pecksniffian. alphadictionary.com/goodword/word/pecksniffian. – Matt Jan 8 '16 at 15:06
  • I've never even seen Hogan's Heroes. I know the term from business school and from working in management. If you are not a boss or involved in business, maybe you haven't heard it. To anyone who is in business or management, which this is a term for a "boss," this is a well-known and widely understood term--likewise for subordinates, for they're the one's mostly calling the boss a Colonel Klink. – Benjamin Harman Jan 10 '16 at 3:39

If someone consistently performs a job or task badly I would say that they were out of their depth. If I were Mindy ("from the network" (Bolt) - not trying to be 'nice', just plain speaking) - I might say they were incompetent.

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