BY DANIEL COLE
Big picture thinking is the ability to look at a situation in its entirety with a well-refined perspective.
Big picture thinkers are not worried or overly concerned about temporal setbacks or challenges because they usually have a long-time frame of reference when making decisions or embarking on a project.
Big picture thinkers and detail-oriented thinkers are both needed and necessary in an organization; while the former focus on the big picture, the latter focuses on details. Striking a balance between the two is pivotal for success. Big picture thinkers are mostly optimists by nature. However, they are sometimes blinded to their own optimism bias. It is important to take into account the current reality and situation of things as you look at the bigger picture.
So, what are some effective strategies for becoming a big-picture thinker?
Use the mind mapping technique: Mind mapping is a technique for visually organizing information and ideas in a hierarchical and interconnected way. To use mind mapping for developing big-picture thinking, you can:
- Start with a central idea or topic in the centre of a page and draw branches for subtopics, supporting ideas, and details.
- Use images, symbols, and colours to make connections and distinguish between different types of information.
- Continuously review and expand your mind map as you gather more information and insights, connecting new ideas to existing ones and identifying patterns and relationships.
- Think critically and creatively, asking questions, making connections and considering multiple perspectives to help you see the big picture and understand the complexities of a situation.
- By using mind mapping to develop big-picture thinking, you can synthesize information, generate new ideas, and gain a more holistic and nuanced understanding of a topic.
Take a step back: “You can’t see the full picture when you are in the frame”, says the Motivational Guru Les Brown. But what does this mean? It means that it’s difficult to have an objective or complete perspective on a situation when you are directly involved in it. This can be because you are too close to the situation or too invested in the outcome. It’s often helpful to step back and look at things from a different angle to gain a more comprehensive understanding. In other words, it’s easier to see the whole picture when you are not directly in the picture yourself. When faced with a complex problem, it can be helpful to take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective. This can help you see the broader context and understand how different elements are connected. Try to think about the problem in the context of your organization, industry, or society as a whole.
Surround yourself with big thinkers and positive influence: How you see life, approach problems, how big or small you think, and your frame of reference, is influenced by the people you do life with and the association your keep. Ask people to give you their unbiased perspectives or opinions on what you are trying to do. Use people as a sounding board to help you shape your perspective. Remember, “you can’t see the picture when you are in the frame.”
In conclusion, Success expert Brian Tracy rightly said, “Things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.”
When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?
It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, and then regret those decisions later on. You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for. Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it. Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.