I had one of those moments this week. The moment where you realize… I see the big picture, but am I helping everyone else see the big picture too? Are people following me blindly, with trust that I see the light at the end of the tunnel?
I’m a big picture person. I have to know the answer to “…to what end?” at all times. When I know the big picture, my brain just works in terms of goals, strategies, tactics… you get the idea. I’m a strategy person. Beyond that, I really like to make plans that achieve the strategies I’m after. I’m a planning person. But even I get lost in the weeds some times.
It has taken me some years to realize two things: 1) not all people are strategy and/or planning people, and 2) those that aren’t strategy and/or planning people need time to digest strategy/planning conversations.
When you’re a planning person, you like plans. Making plans, looking at plans, thinking about plans. Plans are fun. If you’re a planning nerd like me, you might even like to plan what you’re going to eat for dinner when you wake up in the morning.
Here’s the problem with plans, however. Plans can get messy. And detailed. And you get so far in the weeds with your tactics — how you want to achieve your plans — that you lose sight of the big picture. I think that this happens to planning people and non planning people alike.
The Big Picture (noun): The reason for everything that you do (or your organization does, etc.). Period.
So, let’s say that your nonprofit is focused on increasing the graduation rate in your community. The big picture becomes the achievement of this goal. Everything that you do works toward this goal. Everything. It is the reason why staff come to work every day, the reason why your board attends meetings, the reason why people volunteer for your organization, the reason why people help to advocate for you, and most importantly — what all of your strategies and tactics strive to achieve. There are lots of ways to work toward increasing the graduation rate in the community, but that’s not the point. The point is that when you are out doing those things toward raising the graduation rate, you can’t forget why you are doing it.
The big picture is SO important. I believe that once the big picture is in focus, you’ll be able to build stronger, deeper, more meaningful relationships because you can clearly communicate where you are going, why — and how other people can help.
Today, I ask you to pause and check in with yourself to see if you are aware of the big picture. Then, think about whether you need to ask your staff to do the same. Amidst all of the detailed work you do toward your goals, do you need to stop and ask:
1. Does our organization know why we do what we do?
2. Have we gotten lost in our tactics as an organization?
3. Is our organization on the right track to achieve our goal(s)?
I’d love to hear your strategies for keeping your organization’s eye on the big picture. Leave comments below so that others can see it, too.