Big Picture Thinking Pays Big Dividends by Vic Oenning, SR Vice President and General Manager


vic1You seldom hear a manager discuss their plans for growing big picture thinking in his team even though it is an important element of building a successful team and productive business culture.  Managers spend a high percentage of their time analyzing revenue, operating expenses, and other financial indicators while often ignoring the opportunities created by developing big picture thinking in themselves and their team.

Big picture thinking is the ability to see the entire perspective on a situation or an issue.  As a manager you make dozens of decisions a day and that means you make hundreds of decisions each year. Your success is based on the percentage of those decisions that are correct. And who decides if they are correct or not – your boss, your team, your peers, and your customers (most times everyone but you).  When we dial in on big picture thinking we greatly increase our odds of having the best perspective for the company.

The best perspective is the one that typically produces decisions based on team wins, not individual or department wins. With big picture thinking we maximize the data we have to analyze for each decision.  Long term company growth is helped by the result of knowledgeable team decisions, and most importantly, that you are consistently doing what’s right for the team’s future.

Big picture thinking is important for managers, but very important for your team. When you have a team that sees the big picture they will demonstrate organizational commitment.  Organizational commitment makes a team more receptive to change and understanding of the company’s mission.  With organizational commitment you spend a great deal less time trying to get your employees on board for new ideas and processes; therefore you can improve your own productivity.  Making your job easier is always a good idea.

So how do you build big picture thinking in your team? You utilize effective delegation providing your employees exposure to projects, committees, and other departments. You prep them for what they will see when they work on those committees and projects and you coach them for team success.   You must also have a plan for cross training that exposes your team to the entire company, not just inside their work group, or an adjacent work group.  You must foster a learning environment to speed their educational and business growth. This can include suggested books, articles, seminars, and even tuition reimbursement programs.  In order to reduce transition time, you should develop a specific plan for new supervisors to get them on board for big picture thinking as quickly as possible.  And don’t forget your contribution of mentoring and coaching.

Big picture thinking has big rewards. It spurs individual growth in your team and the individual’s engagement to the company.  It can uncover future leaders and “go to” players. It makes the work environment more fun by building teamwork. As a result, it can help you win, and what manager doesn’t enjoy a good victory!