Stop and Think about Big Picture Thinking

the thinker

We are overworked.  We spend our days answering emails and attending meetings.  We suffocate under piles of details.  We are “too busy to stop and think about big picture thinking.” 

Engrossed in our workloads, we do not step back to evaluate the big picture.  What are the goals originally set for the project?  Why do I still work at the same company at the same level?  We begin to believe that critical and big picture thinking are soft skills reserved only for those with extra time or financial freedom.  But everyone can benefit from big picture thinking–at work, in careers, and even when hiring.

Think Big: Redefine Priorities During Projects

During projects, it is critical to incorporate deliberate checkpoints where stakeholders stop to evaluate the work done so far and how it aligns to big picture goals. “Being a big picture thinker allows you to see a project as the sum of its parts. Creating a roadmap for a project allows you to see where potential obstacles might be and take action to prevent them” (Learning Mind).

Teams should ask key questions like:

  • Does the work thus far align to our overall project goals?
  • Are we spending our resources well?
  • Should our timeline, team, or goals change based on what we have learned since beginning?

A team needs both detail-oriented and big picture thinkers. Thinking with the end goal in mind can be scary for detail-oriented persons, but project adjustments can save time and money. Use your entire team to stop and evaluate progress. “People who use big picture thinking can often see the long-term possibilities of a plan and the overall potential for success. While many people see this thinking style as the opposite of detail-oriented thinking, both styles work together in the workplace to help employees create thorough plans and goals” (Indeed).

Think Big: Set Personal Goals

We can all agree that our days seem long, but the years are short.  Take the time to ask yourself whether you are where you want to be at this point in your life.  If you are not satisfied, think about how much longer you will allow yourself to be dissatisfied.  Are you brave enough to make a career change?  Are you staying in a job you hate because it is easier that way? If you never stop to think, you may go on in a cyclical pattern forever. It sounds cliché, but where do you really want to be in five or ten years?

Think Big: Hire Critical Thinkers

A 2020 World Economic Forum report  showed that “critical thinking is one of the most in-demand career skills employers seek when trying to attract and retain the best employees – and employers believe critical thinking skills will become even more necessary in the coming years,” according to Business News Daily

Strong critical thinkers can evaluate industry trends and give thoughtful opinions on company’s direction.  The ability to be analytical and make inferences can be influential in determining future direction. 

When hiring, many employers do not even mention critical thinking in job postings, but they absolutely should.  Employers can even screen candidates on their critical thinking abilities. 

Professor William Gormley, author of The Critical Advantage explains how critical thinking can be evaluated in an interview: “Ask candidates to talk about a decision or challenge in their former job, or more generically, something they wrestled with earlier in their life. Best of all might be to give them a specific challenge in your business today—and then ask how they would break it down. Listen for how they think about evidence, how much skepticism and also self-doubt they admit as they work through the situation for you. Focus less on their overall ‘answer’ than the thinking process they follow, and the style and personal demeanor they bring to the discussion,” Gormley says.

Current employees can be trained to improve critical thinking.  Build critical thinking questions into daily work and projects.  Post mission statements and big picture goals around the office.  Practice thinking backwards by giving employees a goal and thinking about what steps it takes to get there. 

If your big picture thinking is leading you to a career change, turn to Artemis Consultants for career advice from experienced recruiters. 

-Written exclusively for Artemis Consultants by Content Writer Mellody Melville

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