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Do you see the big picture?

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Today's managers need to have a grasp of the details of their work. But they also need to have a view of the big picture--an essential part of "thinking like a manager" that top executives, in survey after survey, say is lacking in their workplaces. How well do you see that big picture? Take this quiz and find out:

1. The following statement best describes me:

A. I have a hard time with problems that come up out of the blue.

B. I can usually solve out-of-the-blue problems on the fly.

C. There are no "out-of-the-blue" problems; I've faced all of them before, one way or another.

2. I have three people complaining to me about the same co-worker, but no one else seems troubled. I would:

A. Talk to the co-worker right away.

B. Talk to all the team members about this co-worker's behavior.

C. Figure out why these three people may have had a different experience.

3. My complicated report keeps coming out wrong, and there's no one around to help me. I would:

A. Keep trying different changes until one works.

B. Try to figure out where the problem lies and then fix it.

C. Work through each step of the process to find the problem.

4. My boss asks me to figure out why we keep going over budget on materials. I would:

A. Go over each requisition to see if we misordered or were overcharged.

B. Talk to my people about how they order materials.

C. Compare each month's spending with the budget to see where the mismatch is.

5. Every week I have to process a bunch of paperwork that other departments ask for. I typically:

A. Ask those departments how urgent the work is and schedule it accordingly.

B. Crank it out as soon as I get it.

C. Put it off until I find time to get around to it.

What do your answers mean? 

1. C means you apply your past experience to each problem you face, a hallmark of conceptual thinking. B implies a focus on the quick fix. A suggests you aren't ready or willing to do either.

2. C is a good first step, especially if you haven't noticed anything amiss. If you can't determine any pattern, then try B. Don't start with A unless the complaints are extremely serious.

3. Both B and C are logical responses, but B is the one that rewards conceptual thinking. Spend your time finding the problem, not waiting for the problem to find you.

4. Either A or C would work, but C helps you find the problem before it finds you. B is only effective if you have a specific set of issues in mind to ask about.

5. The best time to do work is when it needs to be done, and A is the best way of determining when that is--while learning something about your workplace. B isn't effective, C isn't efficient, and neither is part of "big picture" time management.

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