The Importance of Big Picture Thinking

Big-picture thinking is a skill that allows us to better attain our personal goals. Instead of reacting to each obstacle as we are confronted with it, we can practice big-picture thinking to fully understand a task and set ourselves up for the best chance of success.

Steps to Consider:

  • Identify Your End Point or Goal. Define your metric for success. What is your desired outcome?
  • Understand the Complete Process. Gather information about all stages or components of a task, from your start point to your desired end point. Research online and discuss with experts that have done what you are attempting to do. Learn from others and ask for help.
  • Identify Common Pitfalls. What theoretical and practical considerations will you need to address at each stage of the process? What can you do in the earlier stages to mitigate these pitfalls and improve the probability of success at each stage?
  • Practice Second-Order Thinking: At each stage, what are the possible outcomes? How can you design your approach to gain as much knowledge as possible at each stage? Even if the outcome is not ideal, you can still learn from your efforts and apply it. How far can you see in advance?
  • Reflect, Learn, and Iterate. What aspects did you not understand or what obstacle was unforeseen? How would you apply that knowledge and do things differently in your next attempt? Always learn. Always improve. How can you apply this knowledge in a novel way?