Have you ever thought about what it means to be intelligent? Have you ever wondered why some people achieve such incredible things? And why some have the unique ability to do so many things well. Well, a lot of it is the ability to see the big picture. And the ability to zoom out. At least that’s what Steve Jobs said in an interview many years ago as he was growing Apple into the empire it is today.
Steve Jobs said, a lot of success is the ability to zoom out. Like you’re in a city and you can look at the whole thing from about the 80th floor. And you can look down at the city. And while other people are trying to figure out how to get to point A to point B, reading their maps and not looking up and paying attention, you on the other hand, are looking around and can see it all out in front of you. You can make connections that just seem obvious because you can see the whole thing.
In business school, we talk a lot about the big picture and about vision. But in practice, I see a lot of people scrambling around working on execution. Thinking about details. And forgetting the bigger picture. But at least people think about it sometimes.
In law school, it’s entirely about the details. Making sure citations are perfect. Catching the nuances of a case. And making air tight arguments in your briefs and memos.
In business school and in law school, it’s hard to STOP, take a step back, and head up the elevator. Let alone to the 80th floor. But I propose that you do you best to try. After all, it is something just about every CEO talks about, including the reigning CEO of the decade (Steve Jobs). It’s what they do as they juggle dozens, if not hundreds of decisions. And as they try to look around for the next game-changing product and innovation to their company strategy.
So, what are you doing to improve your ability to zoom out?