What is “Big Picture” Thinking?

What is "Big Picture" Thinking?

The best leaders grow the “big picture” thinking of their organizations and teams by framing key decisions based on the interests of clients, employees and shareholders. They ask, what is the best course of action for each constituency with the right answer often being found at the nexus. That is, a balanced solution that best reflects the interests of all three groups. Why is big picture thinking important? It teaches employees to remove their functional hat and put on their company hat. When big picture thinking is not taught and reinforced by leadership, employees often act in a way that is locally optimized, which may or may not be in the best interests of all parties.

For example, dealing with difficult clients is an issue for every company. While clients pay the bills, trying to please every one of them will bankrupt a company. When dealing with difficult clients, a big picture thinker asks: Client. Who is our ideal client and what problems do we solve for them? Are we currently working with an ideal client and within our competency? Employee. While I want to win the business, is the time and effort involved worth the reward for this client? Shareholder. Is the client improving our profitability now or in the long-term? Through big picture thinking, you may decide that you cannot afford to do business with some difficult clients because they are wrong for the company.

It is easy to get lost in the activities and details associated with work. While being heads-down has its place, it is equally critical to look up to reflect on how things are going, consider alternative strategies and ask yourself hard, high-level questions. Work to expand your perspective beyond a function to the total business.

All contents copyright © 2014, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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