Amity Institute Of Training & Development

Getting more real by Thinking Big Picture Read Time: 4 mins

Why did the apple fall from the tree? Why do we dream? Why is there stuff matter? Why do the continents seem to fit together? Why are some pea plants wrinkled and others smooth? Why coal is black? Why is the speed of light constant when measured by moving observers? Why would the entropy of a black hole be proportional to the surface area? Did you notice something common in the questions stated? – Yes, you are right - they are all asking "Why".

Richard Phillips Feynman, American theoretical physicist who was widely regarded as the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-World War II era said, “When you explain why, you have to be in some framework that you allow something to be true. Otherwise, you're perpetually asking why … You begin to get a very interesting understanding of the world and all its complications. If you try to follow anything up, you go deeper and deeper in various directions. … You have to know what it is that you're permitted to understand and allow to be understood and known, and what it is you're not." "Why" is an altitudinal question. It gives the perspective about a situation from a higher ground … above 10000 feet! It helps one to have an eagle-eye view of the situation and can be used effectively to have a detached view of things.

Big picture thinking, also known as strategic thinking, is an imperative leadership skill set. It is defined as the way in which you process, or think about, view, and construct the reality for yourself and organization. The lens through which leaders view the world can help or hinder their ability to make good strategic decisions, especially during crises. Zoom in, and get a close look at select details—perhaps too close to make sense of them. Zoom out, and see the big picture—but perhaps miss some subtleties and nuances.

Dr. Elsbeth Johnson is a Senior Lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management and a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics shares "Every leader knows that they shouldn't micromanage — even if some of us still do. But while we understand the downside of micromanaging and take action to avoid it, we still haven't sufficiently embraced the upside of not micromanaging. Time and effort spent on macro-management enable leaders to be clear, decisive, and disciplined on the big strategic questions the organization is facing." The leaders should be spending time on big picture thinking.

According to Dr Elsbeth, the big strategic questions that leaders aren't spending enough time on or aren't answering are:

• Why the organization exists and what its purpose is?

• What it offers (and does not offer) its customers, and how and why this offer delivers value to these customers?

• What this produces for society and for shareholders?

• How the people within the organization should behave — towards their communities, customers, other stakeholders, and each other

The ability to think big picture impacts decision-making, innovation, and also career success for himself/ herself and the organization. It is a fundamental skill set that every leader needs to have. The best strategic thinkers have the knack of considering the potential impact of their actions far beyond their own team or unit says Harvard Business Review. 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.

Big picture thinking allows leaders to act proactively rather than reactively. This helps avoid unnecessary conflict at work and creates emotional resilience. Cultivated as a habit, big picture thinking can help manage people and time with grace, and help turn challenges into opportunities.

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By: Vaani Gandha


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