We seem to spend a lot of time encouraging people to think of the big picture.

This thinking is critical to the way we work together for a number of reasons:

Visualising the big picture enables the setting of future directions
Talking about the big picture enables a change in mindset about current activities
Working towards the big picture facilitates the achievement of real change


There are some problems with using big picture thinking as your only strategy for solving problems. Whilst big picture thinking is elevating, there are inherent risks if you are not careful.

Thinking too big can fool us into changing everything
Changing everything is slow, risky and likely to fail
We abdicate responsibility for the change that is within our control…
So real change does not happen.

The most common strategies (we see) when dealing with problems…

BIG PICTURE – rail against the system, complain against the injustice, hope that things will change
NITTY GRITTY – make the best of the situation you have been placed in, thinking creatively about how to do your best, but never highlighting the things that don’t work

As standalone strategies these are flawed, but imagine if you combined them.

Think of the big picture
Draw attention to current failings, and
Get the most out of working with what you have got

Be concerned about the big picture and influence at a level you can control.

Avatar photo

Written by Lisa Smith

Twitter LinkedIn

Lisa is a professional thinker dedicated to helping people unlock their innate creativity and to empower them to think differently – for themselves. She is passionate about building innovative cultures and about harnessing and engaging talent to create thinking communities. Lisa holds an MBA, specialising in organisational change and innovation, which forms the nucleus of her work. She relishes opportunities to share the Minds at Work thinking strategies with government bodies, socially responsible corporate, educators, community groups and farmers, helping them to turn their big ideas into realities.