Are You a Big Picture Thinker or Detail-Oriented?

Written By: Ray Waldron
January 24, 2024
4 min read

The way a person approaches and interprets complex challenges says a lot about how they will solve it. It’s not to say that one type of approach is more effective than the others, but more that different people are best suited to solve different types of problems. This means that by understanding the approach you naturally take, you can figure out what type of projects and problems are best-suited for your skillset and maximize your impact on the company.

Broadly speaking, there are two buckets people fall in – the ‘big picture’ people and the ‘details’ people. The big picture people tend to be creative, strategic, and visionary, but they can also be messy, disorganized, and forgetful.

On the other hand, the details people are conscientious, planful, and exacting, but may lack perspective or fail to prioritize long-term goals. These two types tend to complement each other and work together very well. You’ll often find this division in partnerships and many times the CEO is a big picture person while the COO and the CFO are the detail-oriented people.

Whether you have good attention to detail or you can see the big picture easily is generally part of your personality. But it can also be a learned skill, with systems and processes that can help you override your natural tendencies when needed.

Whether you’re a team-member or team-lead, understanding how you and those around you think can help you optimize your team’s problem-solving capabilities and build an environment that fosters continuous innovation.

Here are the typical traits that make up big picture thinkers vs. detail-oriented folks.

Typical of the Big Picture Thinker

  • You quickly see patterns in complex problems.

  • You like to come up with new ideas and projects.

  • You have a low tolerance for busywork, tedious errands, and filling out forms.

  • You are great at outlining what needs to be done but filling in the details can feel exhausting.

  • You may have been described as right-brained.

  • When you took the Myers-Briggs assessment, you were an N.

Typical of the Details Thinker

  • You think about things in great detail but sometimes miss the big picture.

  • You would prefer to edit or tweak a plan than to come up with it from scratch.

  • Highlighting study notes doesn’t work for you, because you end up highlighting everything.

  • You may have a tendency to overthink things.

  • You have excellent attention to detail.

  • You may have been described as left-brained.

  • When you took the Myers-Briggs assessment, you were an S.

Using Your Natural Tendency to Support Innovation

Whether you trend towards big picture thinking or detail-oriented thinking, both skills are essential to forward your company’s innovative initiatives.

Recent years have seen a huge uptick in businesses prioritizing digital transformation, allowing for operational agility throughout their organizations. According to a recent study conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services, 92% of surveyed business and IT leaders agree that successful transformation requires a dual-track approach. This means combining transformation at both the enterprise-wide and business-process levels. In order to implement this dual-track approach successfully, your company will need to draw from people talented at both big-picture thinking and detail-oriented thinking.

Those who identify as big-picture thinkers might be naturally suited to focusing on larger, more enterprise-oriented projects. Their ability to identify patterns can help them find business solutions that meet the needs of people across departments. They are best suited for identifying and prioritizing these large-scale efforts.

On the other hand, those who identify as detail-oriented thinkers might be naturally drawn to mapping out the workflows and processes that your business relies on day-to-day in order to function. These thinkers are more suited to making sure that larger scale efforts permeate across departments and teams by implementing changes at the business process level and ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks.

Developing skills on a Dynamic Work Management platform like Quickbase not only helps you contribute to goals, but maximize your potential within the company.

As a big picture thinker, you can turn ideas into action and make a positive impact at your company by analyzing real-time insights to come up with actionable and targeted business solutions. If you’re detail-oriented, you may enjoy mapping out complex processes and implementing automations that saves the company hundreds of hours of manual labor.

Picture of Associate Content Marketing Manager Ray Waldron set against a lochinvar background
Written By: Ray Waldron

Ray Waldron is an Associate Content Marketing Manager at Quickbase.


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