BigPicture Thinking: What is it?
“The only way to understand a system is to understand the system it fits into.” —Howard Odum
“The best way to understand the world is to get above it.” —Socrates
“The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” —Albert Einstein
“If you can not solve a problem as it is, enlarge it.” —Dwight Eisenhower
“Start all problem solving with the Universe.” —Buckminster Fuller
Problems are solved by expanding the focus, going to the next larger level in which the problem is embedded. The only way to solve a problem is to bring into the system elements from the larger system(s) of which the problem is a part.
A “big picture” is a point of view— a perspective from which to see what you are viewing. Looking at systems with a big picture perspective we find that there is always a larger systems of which the system being focused on is a part— a system, the system of systems. We can also view the system as being composed of sub-systems and being a part of a larger system(s)— a hierarchy of systems.
BigPicture thinking is context; it is at least one hierarchy order removed from the system you are analyzing.
“The idea that solutions can come from anywhere, and from people with seemingly unrelated work, is another key. Dr. Lakhani said his study found that ‘the further the problem was from the solver’s expertise, the more likely they were to solve it,’ often by applying specialized knowledge or instruments developed for another purpose.” —“InnoCentive” July 22, 2008, The New York Times
What to do in midst of information overload: backup. Then, backup further. What system is the problem a part of?
“It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside of the frame.” — Anonymous
“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.” —William James
“Common sense” is seeing the bigger picture. A sense of humor is essential for effective problem solving. Something is funny when two different levels of systems interact.