The Business’ Big Picture

The Big Picture entails the business realizing the IT department aptitude to comprehend and align its desired goals to those of the business. If the IT organization can than the likelihood of otherareas within the organization will also be forced to view IT as a business partner and entrust them for consulting work instead of merely looking at them as a support department.
The IT department must comprehend the desired consequence of the business and where it has to be in order to reach the desired goal.   All IT members must comprehend how their functions impact the overall business goal. Bottom line, everyone needs to see the big picture. For the:
  • Big picture is fundamental to becoming consequence minded. Consequence minded means being able to think in terms of what your desired goal is, thus, collaboratively making decisions that will reflect such desired outcome. The greater the opportunity to see the big picture the more likely people will be able to step into consequence mindedness.
  • Big picture thinking creates context and enables people to honor the values we seek to live (work) by. Most people are not typically drawn to or motivated by values. Typically people are drawn to outcomes.
  • The clearer you make the business the easier it is for people to understand and embrace the values that enable the business, even if they would not necessarily choose those values in their personal life.
  • The more connected and integral we feel to the business, the less likely we are to subscribe to the “us and them factor”. We feel connected to the business through understanding the big picture. As a result of not subscribing to the “us and them factor,” the less likely we are to disregard our values in dealing with others because we feel more akin to and related to others with whom we share the business.
  • When its time to make a judgment call you are more likely to make one in favor of the business. This supports enabling decisions to be made on the battlefield in the midst of action with confidence.
  • Big picture is all about clarity as to where you are headed so that everything you do is aligned with the business. With the big picture clearly in mind, every decision you make and every action you take can be considered in light of how it supports or hinders the business
  • Well managed IT teams do their work in the context of the big picture. Everyone understands how the IT team is linked to the success of the business as a whole and thus the success of the organization.  They do not work on projects with the project itself being the largest view they have of the business. Rather, they view the projects they engage in, within the scope of the larger business and where the business as a whole is headed.
This enables them to act as partners in the business rather than just worker bees, since seeing their place in the success of the business enables them to make decisions and put forward innovative suggestions that go beyond simply meeting the technical requirements requested by their client groups.

One old story that illustrates the relationship between Big Picture thinking and quality of work goes something like this: A traveler comes across three bricklayers on a scaffold. The traveler asks the first one “What are you doing?”
The first responds, “I am earning a wage.”
The traveler then asks the second one “What are you doing?”
The second responds, “I am building a wall.”
They are doing the same “work”. Which of the two is laying the better brick?
The traveler then asks the third one “What are you doing?”
The third responds, “I am building a cathedral”

The story illustrates the power Big Picture thinking has on the everyday work of “laying bricks.”
The more meaningful a business becomes to individuals, the more effort people exert to bring about success. This is very different than a mission or vision statement that is “owned” by the organization and not the individuals. Owned by the organization, you get brick layers earning wages. Owned by the individuals, Cathedrals are built.
This is why we say, living above the line or living below the line also has its consequences, see below:


 The Business' Big Picture
With the application of consequence based thinking people recognize that ideas are not any one person’s responsibility or that efforts alone will lead to the answers that will get to the desired consequences. Whatever the problems, they can be resolved by changing the mindset of the individuals. The focus must be to work as a team and implement Consequence Based Thinking; the organization’s leader will discover that this isn’t just a methodology. The practice will lead to solutions this is why:

It is important that individuals in any part of a business understand how they connect to and serve the overall business of the business. This is particularly relevant for those in IT positions.

Individuals should be organized into workgroups, which, need to be aligned to ultimately serve the true purpose of the existence of the organization – the “business.&rdquo A commitment to serve the business is different than a commitment to serve the workgroup or team. It is equally important however, for individuals to understand how they connect to and serve their own workgroups, department and the organization as a whole, and how that “system” supports the business. It is also important for individuals to understand how they connect to and serve other workgroups and departments in order to work synergistically within the organization for the success of the business of the organization itself. Individuals should measure their decisions and actions in light of how individual decisions and actions serve the business of the business, not merely by how well they serve the outcomes of a project or the needs of a department.

Conclusion, as members of IT teams understand their place in the organization and that they serve the business of the organization and not merely other departments in an organization who serve the business, it is likely that others will view them as critical and necessary partners who can be trusted to provide solutions that don’t merely serve process, but truly serve business outcomes. As a result, they gain more opportunity to influence their internal clients with appropriate solutions. This view of their role, combined with their understanding and commitment to the business, will allow them to create solutions that go well beyond the needs expressed by internal clients, to ultimately benefit the overall business. 


Harris Kern

About Harris Kern

Harris Kern is recognized as the foremost authority on providing practical guidance for solving IT management issues. Harris challenges industry leaders to build a competitive IT organization by re-focusing resources on people, processes and performance. He combines the experiences of an IT executive, self-help/performance expert, leadership coach and sought-after management consultant.
Harris is the author of over 40 IT and self-discipline books. Harris is the founder behind Harris Kern’s Enterprise Computing Institute and the best-selling series of books published by Prentice Hall. The series includes titles such as: IT Services, IT People: Doing More with less, High Availability, IT Organization, and CIO Wisdom, among others. Harris is also the author of DISCIPLINE: Six Steps to Unleashing Your Hidden Potential, DISCIPLINE: Training the Mind to Manage Your Life and DISCIPLINE: Mentoring Children for Success. Harris can be reached at [email protected].

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