Thinking about the big picture

By | January 11, 2016

Thinking about the big picture can be an important part of personal development. Here’s one way to think about it.


There is you – what you are working on, what you care about, what you are hoping to achieve, the external pressures on you. You get on well with some people, but struggle to work with others. Some things you excel at, while some things remain a challenge. All this somehow fits into a wider ‘big picture’.

Your Team

Think about the team in which you work. There are the individual members who each have their own concerns, just like you. There is also the team itself, which will have a designated purpose, targets, and responsibilities. There will be things your team does well, things it tends to be tripped up by, things which it tends to end up doing, things which it tries to avoid. And, just like you there are external pressures on the team to deliver certain outcomes and provide certain services.

Your Group

Go up one more level in your organisation. Perhaps your team exists within a group, cluster, or directorate. What are the ‘personalities’ of the other teams around you? What should they be doing? What do they often do? What do they do well? What do they struggle with? And, as with your team, this group of teams also takes on a life of its own. What is the group’s reason for being there? What are its responsibilities? Who tells it what to do? What does that person or organisation care about?

Your Department

Keep going up levels in your organisation and you may reach the level of a deparment, comprised of groups of teams.What are its priorities, goals and responsibilities? How are these responsibilities divided up amongst the groups and teams within it?

Your Organisation

At some point in your journey you will reach the limit of the influence and extent of your organisation. This might be include a few people, a few dozen people, or perhaps a few thousand people. The organisation will have priorities and goals, responsibilities and pressures. Can you think what they might be? How do these issues fall on the different departments, teams and groups that make it up?

The Wider World

The biggest of pictures is the wider world. It contains all the priorities, concerns and responsibilities of the people in it. It contains governments, weather, crime, health, disease, disasters, competitors, and much more. Some or all of these will apply pressures or influence to your organisation. It may not be immediately clear, but have a think: can you see a path down through all these levels in the ‘big picture’, to you and your work?