Courtesy of Rose

Do you tend to perceive your environment as a whole or do you focus on the smaller details in your environment? When you focus on the whole rather than the details, you are most likely a Big Picture Thinker. However, when you perceive the smaller details and specifics, you are most likely a Detail-Oriented Thinker.

Both ways of seeing and being can be a part of your personality but can also be learned. I, personally, am more of a Big Picture Thinker but I also have skills in detail when it’s required. For example, I might come up with a lot of creative ideas for things to do on vacation, but then I don’t particularly enjoy booking all the arrangements. It’s a part of my personality, but if I have to make the booking arrangements, I will.

Big Picture Thinkers have a tendency to:

  • Be creative, intuitive, and idealistic.
  • Generate new ideas and projects.
  • Have an aversion to paperwork and repetitive tasks.
  • Be right-brained.
  • See patterns and themes in complicated problems.
  • Describe what needs to be done, but loathe the details.
  • Be impulsive.
  • Commit themselves to many social events.
  • Be more visual and strategic.

Detail-Oriented Thinkers have a tendency to:

  • Refine ideas and make them practical.
  • Focus on things in a lot of detail but don’t see the big picture or the outcome.
  • Refine a plan rather than generate a plan.
  • Over-Analyse situations.
  • Be left-brained or logical.
  • Focus on all their senses as they are sensory in nature.

Albert Einstein hardly brushed his hair; felt that shaving was pointless; never wore socks; and had a chaotic desk. Why be neat and precise when he had his theory of relativity to focus on? You can guess that he was a big picture thinker.

These big picture people can be artists, thought leaders, and inventors, who tend to avoid practical details. They also have a tendency to take risks and inspire others to do new or novel things. They are innovative by manufacturing our food, building our homes, and ensuring that technology works.

Regarding the workforce, detailed thinkers are most likely to excel in lower or entry-level roles. In the higher level roles, big picture thinkers are preferred as they focus on trends and long-term goals of the company. Detailed thinkers may not perform well in managerial positions as they have a tendency to micro-manage and focus on small, practical details. However, big picture thinkers would not do so well in entry-level positions as they loathe detail and repetitive tasks, but they’d be valued later on, in the higher level roles.

Ultimately it is crucial to build your weaker thinking style. You need some of both types of thinking skills for different roles and tasks in life. Big picture thinkers have to pay their bills and know how to contact a tradesperson to repair a household item. Detailed thinkers need to develop their big picture thinking skills as they move through the work environment or wish to be innovative in some area of their life. However, other people’s assistance to make up for your weaker skill can also provide a balance for you. How can you work on your weakness? Self-awareness is important, so you need to pay attention to both your big picture and detailed thinking skills often.

To conclude, are you a big picture thinker or a detail-oriented thinker. Take heed of the advice above, and start to notice the big picture when it’s required and the details when it’s needed. Both thinking styles are necessary for daily life, but we all have preferences.