Linking seemingly unrelated ideas is an important trait of a great leader. The ability to see the possible impact of an action or decisions to other parts of the organization is vital in decision making. It is also a key ingredient in innovative thinking.
How to develop the ability to see the big picture? For one, only through lifelong learning can big picture thinkers generate enough materials to connect the dots. A Leaders vision cannot be mapped out clearly without big picture thinking. Predicting possibilities from different relationships cannot be done without big picture thinking. People who refuse to continuously learn cannot possibly be big picture thinkers. Learning can come in many forms; love of reading, observing people and events, stepping back and questioning our experience, formal training and so on. If there is no reference point to compare an idea with then how can big picture thinking happen?
Big picture and creative thinking is infectious. Spend time with big picture thinkers. Observe how they think. Observe how they base decisions on. I got the opportunity to observe this when I was in a meeting with both the CEO of a successful HMO company and its owner. The questions they raised were interesting. Their team focused the discussion around two things: the departments they are managing, the process they are currently using. The CEO questioned the status quo. Instead of focusing on incremental improvements on the current process, the CEO asked the executive to look at revamping the entire process instead. He asked how a completely revamped and improved process would affect the respective departments and improve the service to the customer. He stepped back and looked at the bigger picture. He questioned the status quo.
Big picture thinking is about asking the right questions. It’s about questions that challenge conventional thinking. It’s about questions that bring out the root cause of issues instead of accepting the first reason that comes to the collective minds in a meeting. Big picture is about getting the root of the question “why?”.
Finally, big picture thinking is about looking at events and situations through the lens of data. Data drives big picture thinking decisions of leaders while everyone else goes with their gut feel. Gathering data, looking at it, finding relationships between different sets of data, validating cause and effect through data is an important ingredient in big picture thinking. Decision making is made using data.
Do you want to go up the corporate ladder? Do you aspire for a key leadership role? If so then you need to develop your big picture thinking abilities. It is a pre-requisite to leadership success.
Are you a big picture thinker?