Managers need to see the “Full” Picture not Big Picture

Dec 16 / Metron
The word “big picture” thinking has become a buzz word and managers actually don’t really understand what this means..

But imagine you watch just one episode of your favourite TV show, not knowing what happens in the next episode, what the other characters are doing and what happened to them.

Or imagine seeing only part of a painting? Knowing it’s part of something much bigger and beautiful. The rest of the canvas is just blank, staring back at you.

Knowing the whole or full picture gives you and your team context to understand what's happening. It gives you meaning so you know what to do next.  Like your favourite TV show, it gives you something to look forward to!

To help managers and leaders break away from the buzz word, at Metron we call this full picture thinking!

3 challenges to "full picture" thinking

Managers can struggle with full picture and find it hard to think beyond your own role. What causes this?

Here are three common culprits:

1. The Silo Mentality: We get so invested in our teams and projects that the walls of our departments become invisible. We lose sight of how our work intersects with other areas, hindering collaboration and cross-functional synergy.

2. The Measurement Maze: We're often held accountable for specific metrics within our domain, be it sales figures or project timelines. While these metrics are important, they can become blinkers, preventing us from seeing the bigger picture impact of our decisions.

3. The Information Gap: Let's face it, company communication isn't always crystal clear. Important strategic decisions often get bogged down in jargon and bureaucracy, leaving managers feeling uninformed and disconnected from the larger narrative.
TRY OUR FREE Strategic Thinking course

Mastering the art of "full picture" thinking

So, how can you as a manager, begin to see the full picture? We'll look at the example of Alex in a moment.

Here are three practical ways:

1. Become a Cross-Pollinator: Venture beyond your department. Talk to colleagues in different areas, understand their challenges, and explore how your work intersects. While doing this, piece together what's happening in your organisation. Most managers stay in their own lane. This cross-pollination will fertilise your understanding.

2. Decipher the Data: Don't just track your own metrics. Look at company-wide data, understand how your team's performance fits into the fuller picture, and identify opportunities for improvement. Remember, data is the paint that brings the canvas to life.

3. Seek Clarity, Not Certainty: Don't wait for the perfect explanation to fall into your lap. Be proactive in seeking information from your upper management or senior leadership. Ask clarifying questions, and participate in company-wide initiatives. Remember, the full picture is always evolving, and your curiosity is the brush that keeps it vibrant. 

Participating in strategic company debates is also a useful technique. By breaking free and embracing the full picture, you become more than just a manager – you become a strategic thinker, an inspiring leader, and a vital contributor to your company's success. 

Example

Meet Alex, a data analyst at a cutting-edge AI firm Astec AI. They help people use ground breaking voice recognition to detect health problems.

Buried in code and algorithms, Alex felt his work was a mere cog in the machine. He analysed data, optimised models, but rarely saw the full picture.

One day, he did not feel like his work was adding any benefit to him or the company. He explored how others felt in the company and connected with Samina in the marketing team, who was struggling to communicate the Health AI assistant features to users.

Alex helped Samina highlight the assistant's user-friendly features. In doing so he learned more about how customers felt and the positive potential it had to improve their lives. Alex was expose to how the marketing team communicated to users through videos, social media and testimonials. 

He started producing communication guides with any new features he developed. These guides were used widely by everyone in the organisation, helped communicate to users, and grew the user base.

Alex never thought he would be involved in marketing, but could see how his coding skills and passion for the product strategically helped the company and its users.

Conclusion

Seeing the full picture means seeing what else is happening beyond your role. It's crucial if you want to drive positive change, get promoted and communicate your ideas.

This article shows full picture thinking means connecting with your organisation's core mission. Beyond a mere buzzword, there are practical steps you can take to improve your full picture thinking skills.

Sign up to our BLOG for weekly content!

Thank you!
Write your awesome label here.
Write your awesome label here.

Free content to help managers become leaders

Sign up for a free account we want to help as many managers as possible upskill