I like to think of myself as a thinker. I think all the time. If I was a cartoon character I would be Thinker Bell. If I was a pop star I would be Robin Think. And if I was an assassin I would be John Thinkley Jr.
I think about small details. I like to consider all the little things that matter. Because, as the band Bush sang, it’s the little things that kill. I also find great value in big-picture thinking. It is immensely valuable to be able to step back and see an entire system, business, or opportunity.
As a professional ideator, I spend a lot of time in both micro and macro-thinking modes. It is important to be comfortable in both. I am also quite comfortable at mecro thinking, which is what I call the medium view. Or at least I have been calling it that since the last sentence.
However, I have noticed that big-picture thinking suffers from a branding consistency issue. People can’t seem to agree on a standard elevation for big picture evaluation. I have frequently heard people refer to this as the 10,000-foot, 30,000- foot, or 50,000-foot view. I would prefer not to have to develop 3 different calibrations for big thinking. So I am hoping we can settle on one standard. Like VHS.
10,000 feet sounds nice and clean. It uses a nice, round, large number. So there is good rationale for using it. Plus, it’s a 10-base number, which makes it like the metric system of big views.
The 30,000-foot view sounds pretty random. Like a 32-degree freezing point. Or 212- degree boiling point. However, I fly a lot. Correction – I used to fly a lot. #covid I know that airplanes typically fly in the 30,000-foot range. So it is the highest view I have ever really experienced. It looks a lot different than the 10,000 foot view. Plus, the tallest mountain on Earth, Mt. Everest, is just about 30,000 feet. And the view from the top is amazing. (I’ve never climbed Everest, but I was a long-time subscriber to Outside magazine.)
The 50,000-foot view is interesting. It is the highest of the 3 options. So, therefore, offers the biggest picture view of all. Although I have never seen the world from 50,000 feet. So I have more of a guess as to what it would look like. Perhaps at 50,000 feet, we have gone too high. There is a good chance that this elevation pushes things too far to be useful. Like 6 Minute Abs.
I have chosen my default big picture elevation. But I feel like I am being constantly overbid or underbid on my view, depending on whether we are playing Big Picture Christie’s Auction House or Big Picture Name That Tune. (You should be able to tell from my last statement which elevation I use. If not, it rhymes with dirty cows hand.)
So what is the correct standard for big picture thinking? I want to hear from you. How high do you go? And if you know why you choose that elevation I’d love to hear. After my ears pop that is.
*If you know someone who thinks big, please share this with them so we can all get on the same altimeter.