Home Blogs Business tips How to learn to see the big picture

How to learn to see the big picture

| Print |  Email
Business tips
Friday, September 06, 2013

BY TOM COX | BUSINESS TIPS CONTRIBUTOR

01.18.13 Blog JobSkillsI was recently asked:

How does one develop an ability to “see the big-picture?”

The feedback from my performance review is that while I am competent, I ‘miss the forest for the trees’. Working on this is crucial for me to get into executive ranks.

What advice do you have for me to sharpen my big-picture skills?

How to Learn to See the Big Picture

You’re trying to develop a skill, a way of thinking and seeing.

The most effective way to do that seems to be, to do it for a focused period of time — every few days. Like learning a foreign language or a musical instrument, you’re trying to build new brain circuits. For that you need attention and repetition.

Here’s my suggestion.

First Make some Educated Guesses

Before each (say) weekly staff meeting, take a big sheet of paper and create a grid of rows and columns. Along one axis, put departments or interest groups around the firm (plus maybe customers and vendors). And, add one for “the whole firm.” Along the other axis, put the topics being brought up at the meeting.

In the intersections you’ve created, try to make some educated guesses — and write a few words that will capture the spirit of how that particular department VIEWS or IS IMPACTED BY that topic.

Next, Check Your Work

Now, during the meeting, see if those stakeholders do in fact have the views, or face the impacts, that you guessed.

Mark down their actual responses next to your guesses.

This technique provides you with three things:

  1. Regularity — it’s weekly, so you get regular practice.
  2. Self-testing — a proven study technique, you’re guessing and then checking.
  3. Artifacts — you can look back at earlier attempts and see if you’re getting better over time.

Bonus fourth value:

  • Other people will notice you as you see things from their perspective. They’ll be impressed.

Book Suggestions

My colleague Mark Hurwich suggests:

Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors

Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

Tom Cox is a Beaverton consultant, author and speaker. He coaches CEOs on how to boost performance by building workplace trust.

 

Comments   

 
Guest
+1 #1 Retired CEOGuest 2013-09-25 10:59:21
I used to define the roles of all the people reporting to me as 80% running their department and 20% looking at their department from (my) a CEO perspective. Whenever they were going to do something that seemed like a good idea from a their department perspective but seemed like maybe it wasn't as good from a CEO perspective, we should talk about it before acting on it. I was trying to force all managers to see a bigger picture.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Attack of the Robin Sages

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 07, 2014
070714 thumb linkedinfakesBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.


Read more...

The global challenge

News
Friday, June 27, 2014
062714 thumb globalmarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER

Over the last several months we have seen a wave of cross-border acquisitions, primarily U.S.-based companies looking to purchase non-U.S.-based companies. There are a few reasons for this, but the main culprit is the U.S. corporate tax system. The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.


Read more...

Oregon Business wins awards

News
Monday, June 30, 2014

ASBPEOregon Business magazine won two silver awards for excellence in writing in the National American Society of Business Publication Editors Western region competition.


Read more...

Blips and trends in the housing market

News
Thursday, June 26, 2014
062614 thumb realestateBY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER

Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?


Read more...

Driving green

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Transportation accounts for the second-largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S. (28% in 2012), and the use of renewable fuels, such as biodiesel and ethanol, is booming in light of state and national programs to make transportation fuels cleaner.


Read more...

Downtime with Doug Gastich

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How the president of BlueVolt spends his free time.


Read more...

Who said we should sell in May?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, July 18, 2014
BullMarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Back in May, we shared a common Wall Street quote about investing, “Sell in May and go away.” Fast forward to July and the most common question we have been getting from clients is, “When is the market pullback going to occur?”


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS