Are You a Big Picture Thinker or Detail-Oriented?

They say that there are two types of people – the ‘big picture people’ and the ‘details people.’ The big picture people tend to be creative, strategic, and visionary… but they can also be messy, disorganized, and forgetful. On the other hand, the details people are conscientious, planful, and exacting… but can lack perspective or fail to prioritize. These two types tend to complement each other and work together very well. You’ll often find this division in partnerships and many times the CEO is a big picture person while the COO and the CFO are the details people.

But what if your role requires both strategic thinking and attention to detail? Most people are naturally more skilled at one or the other, and there are a lucky few who do both equally well. Whether you have good attention to detail or whether you can see the big picture easily and clearly is generally part of your personality. But it can also be a learned skill, if you wish to develop it. There are systems and processes that can help you override your natural tendencies when needed.

 

In my next two blog posts, I will go over some tips on the systems and tools you can use to develop your missing skill. In the meantime, think about whether you are more skilled at the strategic thinking or paying attention to details. While you most likely know this already, here are some points that can promote that reflection:

Typical of the Big Picture Thinker

  • You can quickly see patterns in complex problems.
  • You like to come up with new ideas and new projects.
  • You have a low tolerance for busywork, tedious errands, and filling out forms.
  • You are great at outlining what needs to be done, but filling in the details can feel exhausting.
  • You may have been described as right-brained.
  • When you have taken the Myers-Briggs assessment, you were an N.

Typical of the Details Thinker

  • You think about things in great detail and sometimes miss the big picture.
  • While you are certainly smart, others may joke that you lack common sense.
  • You would prefer to edit or tweak a plan than to come up with it from scratch.
  • Highlighting study notes doesn’t work for you, because you end up highlighting everything.
  • You may have a tendency to over-think things.
  • You have excellent attention to detail.
  • You may have been described as left-brained.
  • When you have taken the Myers-Briggs assessment, you were an S.













Eva Rykrsmith

Eva Rykrsmith is an organizational psychology practitioner. Her passion lies in bringing a psychology perspective to the business world, with the mission of creating a high-performance environment. Follow her @EvaRykr.

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