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Mountains and hills have always drawn me. When I reflect on what the source of this attraction is, one of them is the view from the summit. Whether it is the view of the whole area of Srinagar and the Dal Lake from the top of the Shankracharya Hill  in Kashmir; or the view of the Alpbach valley and surrounding villages from the top of Gratlspitz in Tyrol Austria, the big picture view is always mesmerising for me.

One can see all the different parts of the valley, the connecting roads and trails, the lakes and rivers, the forests, the sky and clouds…The whole big picture.

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In an exercise we often use in our workshops with teams at Pragati Leadership, groups are given giant jig saw puzzles to solve without showing them the “Big Picture”. You can well imagine how tough that gets. When they see the picture on top of the box they have to put together, the puzzle is solved in a jiffy.

It shapes what we see. It creates the connections in our mind that relate to the whole picture beyond the words. When we miss the context, the big picture, we fail to see.  From shaping what we see, the context also determines how what we see occurs to the meaning we give to what we see, the feelings and actions that then emerge from this, and finally our outcomes. When context is missing, content makes little or no sense.

Another more basic reason for our attention getting “stuck” is that in the humdrum of Business as Usual (BAU), we do not look for fresh information or perspectives different from our own. We are locked, as it were, into a perceptual box that keeps us deluded into thinking that what we are seeing is really the world “out there”. Our attention is simply stuck or fixated, and so also our vision.

What might be the benefits of seeking the big picture:

  • It helps to see the Context for our work. For leaders, inculcating this quality is vital. At the level of an individual, an expanded view of life helps one to craft a sense of meaning and purpose;
  • The big picture shows us the Connections between different parts of the system. We take systems view and see the interrelatedness of things. This informs the actions of different actors in the system. It also helps us to ensure that all that we do is having a positive effect on our relationships; and
  • When you see the context and connections clearly, it helps you chart out a Course for the way forward. This could take the form of better strategic decisions in organisations based on seeing the big picture and understanding all the forces at work in the whole system. As an individual, charting the course of one’s career choices would be better informed when we look at the big picture.

It’s not enough to be effective. We also need to be meta effective…effective in the larger context of life and also in the long run.  It is pointless climbing a ladder to the top and then realising that the ladder is on the wrong wall.

See the big picture and choose well.

Author: Mr.Arun Wakhlu