The Essence of the Big Picture

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With the advance of Google maps, driving around in a strange neighbourhood is not a huge challenge anymore. The voice navigation provides turn-by-turn directions. Despite the convenience, I found the first visual presentation of the origination and the destination offers a mental orientation on where I am headed. That big picture view also enhances my confidence when there is any problem with the electronic device. In business, an understanding of the big picture makes a difference in the level of success in tackling business issues.

For employees working at the operational level, they believe good solutions are built with solid attention to the details. It is true but one could not neglect how the solution fits into the big scheme of things. The advantages of understanding the big picture include:

  •          An appreciation of how the problem undermines the company’s success
  •          An acknowledgement of the relative significance of the effects
  •          A comparison of its priority for the investment to be made

Acquiring that big picture understanding helps everyone formulate a rational filter in his decision-making. This works for the:

  •          Marketing Manager who promotes online services to the customers
  •          Procurement Director who develops the supplier management program
  •          IT Manager who conducts a search for an ERP for the company
  •          Human Resources Manager who is in the midst of modifying the employee benefits program
  •          Business Analyst who facilitates the business requirements workshops
  •          Software Developer who designs the solution for a call center
  •          Subject Matter Expert who participates in the development of the features for a new application
  •          Accountant who develops the performance measures for the department
  •          Team Lead who manages the account reps
  •          Sales Manager who is responsible for product returns

Essentially, there is no exception, regardless of the position individuals are in. Losing sight of the big picture generates an unintentional shift that could propagate downstream. To avoid this, pay attention to the following:

Develop sufficient and meaningful details on the company’s direction. This might seem trite. The challenge is in the development of relevant information that is applicable to the various departments. Irrelevant information gets little or no attention.

Communicate frequently and clearly. The reinforcement raises awareness. The communication format makes a difference. The higher the opportunity for a two-way dialogue, the better the understanding and recollection.

Equip leaders with the skills for facilitating work alignment discussions. This applies to leaders at every level of the company, including anyone who has a role in facilitating meetings and workshops. The key is to leverage every opportunity to drive alignment.

Reinforce with adequate monitoring. Monitoring includes regular face-to-face explicit conversations between team leader and direct reports to ensure that the alignment discussion is built into the day-to-day work. A more effective approach is to use succinct results measurement.

The big picture understanding is an important checkpoint to validate actions and investments. As resources are limited, companies could not afford to risk lost time and unworthy commitment of resources.

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