Focusing On The Details When We Are Missing The Big Picture
Measuring Timing on the Production Line When There is High Turn Over
Some might call it a right or left-brain thing to explain the reason why some focus on details and others on larger concepts. Whole Brain Thinking says something quite different and rebuts the idea that the brain is specialized in each half of the brain. The Whole Brain theory says that people do have preferred patterns of thinking, but the location of the specialization is not as important as understanding the thinking patterns themselves.
According to Whole Brain theorist Ned Herrmann there are four clusters, A, B, C, and D, that explain the four thinking preference clusters people fall into. Understanding our thinking patterns can help us understand why we react the way we do and give us some insight into behavior.
A group of eager process improvement gurus are standing on the production line with stop watches in hand. They want to measure different aspects of the production line and establish a bench mark for operations. It’s a great thing to mark as long as we don’t overlook bigger picture problems like high employee turnover and simple procedural problems like the trainer not showing up to work and new employees not getting any training. It’s good to understand how long it takes employees to get a product from point A to point B as long as we understand that at point B is a new employee who was told to read the manual in order to figure out how to get the work done.
In the A cluster of thinking we are logical, quantitative, critical, analytical, and factual. The B cluster extends the common sense/realistic pattern and is sequential, conservative, controlled, structural, and detailed. Those who operate in the C mode are emotional, humanistic, expressive, sensory, and musical. Big picture thinking come from the D cluster which is conceptual, synthesizing, metaphoric, integrative, and visual. The key is to identify your natural thinking patterns. This can help you understand why you act the way you do and identify areas for growth.
When I am at work I instantly become an A and with some work will prime my B and become very focused, detailed, and analytical. By nature I am a A/D combo and my D is constantly striving to pull A out of the focused mode and into the bigger picture. Let’s time the production line, but oh look at how messed up the big procedures are. It sounds great to dot that I and cross that T but you don’t have the papers in the right folders and filed in the right cabinets. I am not even sure where the cabinets are. Let’s get the bigger picture fixed before we worry about the details.
As a wife I’ve missed the mark on this more times than I care to admit. I get overly focused on things that don’t really matter when compared to the bigger picture. It’s easy to do when raising kids and trying to manage a home, but it can do so much damage to our overall relationship. If I am focused on the placement of shoes in the house I can make that the break or make of our happiness when overall our sex life is great and we actually have a good time together when you take away all the crap of the day to day.
Understanding my thinking patterns helps me to see that I need to work my way back over to the D side a little more when I’m at home and stop focusing so much on details that aren’t important to the long-term stability of our relationship.
In a world of hate, distrust, anger, and confusion we could all use a little more of the C mode. It’s an area I need to work on. In a dog eat dog world it’s hard to think of others when I am fighting to get ahead, but life is better for everybody when we can season a little more humanism onto things. Sure, I want to make more money and get the promotion, but not at the expense of others. In the world of spreadsheets and corporate decisions we want to remember those numbers represent people.
As you go throughout your week start to look at what clusters you fall into and which ones you need to work on if you want to grow. I did our bills this morning and have our weekly money set into neat categories. This goes to this, this to that, etc. I am dogged rigid when it comes to the budget, but I need to remember the bigger picture. Life doesn’t always work out into neat categories. Sometimes one category needs busted so we can just live life. I need to get over how one category went over and look at what’s important for the bigger picture. I need to add the humanistic side to it and remember all of this is about and for people. It’s not about the spreadsheet I keep in my mind.
Focusing on the details is important, but we need to be careful we aren’t missing the bigger picture and that we aren’t overlooking the most important part — people.