The Importance of Focusing on the Big Picture in Consulting

The Importance of Focusing on the Big Picture in Consulting

Consulting and the Big Picture

One day I walked into my local bank branch to deposit my paycheck (two statements I realize age me considerably), and as I reached for the handle on the second set of doors, I saw him. Rather, I saw it. The gun. I saw “him” next. The man holding the gun was focused on the 20 people he was holding hostage, and did not see me. I released the handle and gingerly backed my way out of the bank.

As I ran back to my car, I saw the sign: someone had written, “We’re being robed” on a greasy brown lunch bag and taped it to the window. I understand that greasy brown bags do not typically come with spell check, and I am certain that the author was under considerable duress; however, I could not help but wonder what that bank scene would have looked like if indeed they were being robed rather than robbed. I mean, had disrobing occurred first? Was this some sort of ceremony? I am a very literal thinker and could not stop my brain from going down this particular rabbit hole. Unfortunately, I was not able to leave the bank parking lot due to a confluence of events. So I did what any young girl would do, I hit the floorboard, listened for the inevitable shoot out and cried.

As a consultant, I have to be careful not to allow my brain to go down meaningless rabbit holes. It can be difficult though. I hear a detail that is interesting, and I run with it. Alternatively, I sink my teeth into a task, put my head down, and pay attention to nothing else. Additional needs be damned!  Consultants tend to live down in the weeds, never lifting their heads, only seeing the trees, hardly ever the forest.

I think about this memory of the bank robbery often, as it truly affected me. If I had looked at the big picture, seen the entire façade of the bank, I would have seen that hastily scribbled note and avoided walking into an active robbery. And I wouldn’t have spent the good part of a Friday afternoon crying on the floor of my car.

When I think about it now, I use it to remind myself that as a good consultant I have to step back from the details occasionally and look at the big picture. I make it a point to ask myself, “What is the larger problem I’m trying to solve?” I make it a point to see the forest.

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