Friday, April 3, 2009

See the Big Picture

I subscribe to a newsletter from an ex-recruiter named John Lucht. I’m a fan, though I know he is controversial to many; the message is spot-on regardless of your view of the messenger.

I wanted to share the note I received yesterday that talks about seeing the big picture in a business setting because it extends past business and can apply to many situations. See if you agree:

“So you're not yet the CEO. Nonetheless, if you want to get ahead, you'd better begin today to think as if you were. Indeed, always observe and think as if you were already managing the larger entity into which your unit fits.

If you were managing the larger unit, what approach to your unit would you take? Would you pour on the resources because it represents a superior growth opportunity? Or would you short-change it in favor of another more promising unit? How would you view its requests for capital? Would you make strategic acquisitions? Would you invest in long-term R&D?

Perhaps you would divert investment away from your unit. Perhaps even starve its promotion. You might even increase its short-term profitability in order to dress it up for divestiture.

Nothing more clearly and indelibly marks an individual as bush league and unpromotable than if he or she demands resources and attention for a business unit merely because he or she is in charge of it. Don't make that mistake. Offer creative suggestions that can maximize shareholder value. Always think of the big picture and fit your area of responsibility into it."
[Excerpted from Insights for the Journey]

I have always run my career this way. I have learned to use this thinking granularly - I even approach meetings this way: Who is at the table and what are their needs? What impact will our decisions have on them or their departments and what does that mean for their own currency?

I have also always thought this way as a marketer. What job is my product being hired for? What else is going on at home or at the First Moment of Truth (those precious seconds when the consumer is deciding what to buy) that I need to acknowledge and either accommodate or neutralize? And, what degree of interaction does my consumer want to have with my brand? I want to be just as engaging as I can be without crossing her line and alienating her.

Try this thinking out at your next meeting regardless of whether it’s Staff, Client or PTA. Let me know how it goes.


  1. Attempting to estimate the CEO's perspective and intentions is a good thing. Knowing what they need even if they don't is good too, but it gets tricky. Getting any of it right: priceless. Clearly the best marketers are getting it right.

  2. Scott, I agree. Really anyone can use this advice - which is why I wanted to share it. Even though you are the CEO of your own firm, the "true CEO" is the end user of your services. Keep the right person happy, and you have it made.

    Anyone at any level should be thinking this way. Anticipate the needs of your customer, anticipate the needs of your cohorts, and navigate through it all with the goal of maximizing consumer and firm's value.

    I have an idea about a post for the job hunt/interview process that will tap this as well - preview is to think about the needs of your gatekeepers and how you can satisfy them and get to the green light.