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

Updated: Disrupting innovation

News
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
070814 thumb disputive-innovationBY LINDA BAKER  | OB EDITOR

The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation  — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment. 

Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.


Read more...

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...

Is this employee right?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
081314 thumb employeefeelingsBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”


Read more...

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

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...

Green Endeavor cleans up

News
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
080614 ULnew greenendeavorBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.


Read more...

Interview: Dr. Mark Goulston

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 10, 2014
JustListenBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.


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