Taking Time to Think – Big Picture Thinking

Big Picture ThinkingI call it “window time”, the moments I invest in thinking solely about the big picture.

It’s called the big picture for a reason… because it’s hugely important!

Business owners and leaders often fail prey to an obsession with that daily to-do list, all the mundane issues and tasks that engulf their day.  The things we do that “move the needle” and significantly improve our company are those items we discover when we isolate ourselves and focus entirely on what really matters.

Do you take time – at least weekly – to get away from your normal (or abnormal) routine and think about all of the major components of the business you lead?  If yes, congratulations!  You are one of the very few who have their priorities in order.  If not, let’s chat further because there is work to do.

Why should we give up our precious time to think about this elusive bigger picture?

Here’s why:

– You can survive without it but you cannot thrive.  This is a critical conversation about an essential aspect of running a business.

– You will not provide the required feedback for growth to your senior executives without carefully thinking about their performance, strengths, and weaknesses.

– Your offerings may lack an important product or service because you have not addressed a change in market conditions.

– Every business leader has impending important decisions to resolve and this is the time to give careful consideration to all aspects of these upcoming discussions and resolutions.

– You might sense one of your leaders does not have the respect of their team and you must resolve whether this is true and, if so, how you will remedy the situation.

– Perhaps you surmise your time is not invested as it should be for the maximum benefit to the company.

– You may have piles of reports and have not taken the time to assess what this feedback is whispering to you.

As you can see, there are a plethora of valid reasons to hit <pause> on your daily grind… zoom out for a 50,000’ view, assess what you see and then zoom in again, ready to improve.  If you’re with me and agree this thinking deserves our attention, the challenge still remains… How?  Here are the basics steps to thinking “big picture” on a regular basis:

  1. Isolation – You must get away from all personal and business distractions. Looking down at your company from 50,000 feet requires zen-like concentration. Get away!  Take a walk and leave your smartphone in your office.  Sit in nature.  Go where is a view.  Go where you will be relaxed and undisturbed.  Just go!  When you are comfortable, alone, and isolated… you are ready to think about what is really important.
  1. Honesty – The most challenging aspect of these deep-in-thought sessions is being completely honest… with yourself! Why would we mislead ourselves? Well, have you ever kept an employee on the payroll longer than you should have because you liked them?  I believe I may have terminated every person I ever set free too slow.  Why?  I wasn’t honest with myself about their fit in the organization or performance.  No excuses.
  1. Coach – Sometimes you should do your big picture thinking with your coach. If you don’t have a coach, get one! Let’s talk.  If you do, invite them to your thinking session about the most important aspects of running your business.  Ensure they understand your expectations.  Will you ask for help when you have questions?  Should they speak up anytime?  I didn’t hesitate to drive the agenda with my coach but I wanted them to be candid when they smelled opportunity or concern.
  1. Goals – Have a list of the things you desire to assess. Make the list manageable and comprehensive based on your priorities.  People.  Products.  Customer satisfaction.  Engagement.  Culture.  Finances.  Pick the items that are most critical and/or are costing you sleep.  Make sure you cover these items and do not be surprised when you add items for consideration as you sit and think.  This is one time it’s okay to wonder off the path a bit.
  1. Framework – Take your vision framework (values, purpose, BHAG, recipe, hedgehog, more) with you. Everything you think about must be measured against this foundation of your company. If this confuses you, we should discuss vision framework!

Your end result should be a healthy to-do list that will ‘move the needle’.  Take a moment to weigh the magnitude of these issues against your daily to-do list and you will understand why this is so important.  Then make your plan to get these critical to-do’s done asap!

Taking time for big picture thinking (or not) has heavy consequences.  If you want to drive a culture of discipline and fun… if you want to increase compensation and reward in your company… if you want to expand and offer opportunities in other geographic areas… if you simply want to work less and make more… you must drive those outcomes.  Hoping and waiting are not fun experiences.  Careful consideration of the big picture is an absolute requirement for long term business success!

I hope this lesson on big picture thinking has you reflecting on exceeding your dreams.  Best…


“When you’re green, you’re growing’ when you’re ripe, you’re rotten”