Focusing on the big rather than small, is another alert I heed as a problem identifier. This occurs when people apply overarching solutions rather than surgically specific ones, declaring the forest a problem rather than specific trees.
Even though focusing on the forest is often easier, it differs from the Easy-Difficult Alert in that much of the Big-Small Alert is a function of personality; some don’t have the mindset or temperament to dive into the specifics of a situation. Just as various cameras varying ranges of resolutions, people see problems – and life – through varying resolutions. Also, politically, the big might become important to show decisive, sweeping actions. Reorganizations are a frequent example.
Here are some examples of over focus on the big causing problems in the right circumstances:
- Reorganizing a department rather than looking for several specific problems
- Sending everyone through the same training rather than determining who needs it or providing different levels
- Relying upon the statistics and executive summaries in decisions rather than in-person assessments
- Conducting general, demographic surveys rather than segmenting responders according to personalities, tendencies, importance, etc.
- Assessing employee morale on an anonymous 1-10 scale rather than conducting one-on-one interviews with select employees
- Benchmarking budgets against last year rather than taking a “first-year” or “start-up” perspective
- Creating processes and rules to solve implemental problems rather than diving into the individual relationships and personalities
- Providing training for employees rather than coaching for managers
- Working on strategies rather than tactics, techniques and specific steps
- Revising plans rather than investigating implementation
In simple terms, we often experience the Big-Small Alert when we don’t explore and incorporate details well. So, when we find ourselves thinking, “Devil’s in the details,” problems are often lurking.