Big-picture thinking is critical to understanding what is possible in the present and in the future.
April 30, 2020 3 min read
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Today, the velocity of change is continually increasing. Anyone in business today — from senior leadership to the frontline workers — feels immense pressure to deliver on accountabilities while juggling the realities of today’s world. The trouble is when we constantly operate in this state, it can become too easy to lose sight of the big picture.
For a moment, let’s consider the big picture is a mountain top. Picture yourself having hiked up to the top of a mountain and looking down at the valley below where you live. While most of your time is spent in the valley living your everyday life, solving common problems and overcoming challenges, when you do climb to the top of the mountain, you gain a new perspective. You have a birds-eye view of the village layout, shops, and roadways.
From this perspective you can see things clearly that may not have otherwise been so obvious; roads are not straight, homes and shops might not be ideally located. Going to the top gives you the ability to observe and correct or improve things that might otherwise be missed. It’s an opportunity to ask yourself, “How can I make things better?”
This exercise is imperative to organizational success, especially for those in positions of leadership. The need to see broadly like this is important to establish perspective, and in turn judgment. Your judgment is based on how well you can keep the big picture view (the view from the mountain top) while executing against your day-to-day tasks (the valley).
When you take the time to look at the big picture it can cause a shift in perspective, modify your judgment, and ultimately change your focus and activity, either as an individual, team, or entire organization. Getting a big picture perspective tends to reinforce the things that are important and subsequently refocus your attention on what you determine to be true priorities.
When looking at the big picture, ask yourself the following three questions:
- Why are things occurring as they are?
- What is really necessary?
- How do the various single pieces with which I’m involved fit into the grand scheme of things?
Three benefits of looking at the big picture
- It allows you to see opportunities for improvement
- It allows you to bring that big picture view to be communicated to the rest of the team
- It serves to reinforce the real reason for the activities you do daily
When we get pulled in so many directions, with shifting priorities, and the never-ending pressure to produce results now, it can be difficult to step back, take a big picture view and evaluate. However, the alternative is worse. You may wake up one day and find that what was is now no longer relevant, inefficient, or becoming less profitable. While it can seem difficult to find the time in a busy calendar to set aside for big picture thinking, it is critical to the achievement of what is possible in the present and the future.