The Bird’s Eye View

What follows builds on what I discussed in my latest post, but the current dialogue will extend to a broader topic. It’s not so much the second part in a two-part series, but the other part of the conversation that needs to be addressed not just in professional IT, but also in life.

Last week, I talked about seeing the forest instead of only the trees to highlight shifting our focus toward the more long-term strategic view rather than the immediate and responsive view of what’s before us in which too many of us spend our lives entrenched. With the bird’s eye view, we don’t just notice the forest along with the trees, we notice everything.

In that sense, what we’re discussing here is a kind of omnipotence most us can never expect to experience in totality solely by ourselves. The bird’s eye view refers to a kind of strategic master plan most often woven together by the collaborative analysis and planning efforts of people who have allowed themselves to notice and document the forest around them. That’s the thing, really: each of us to really know with certainty only one part of the forest  when we’re discussing a large organization. The narratives we share are profoundly influential for others to gain from our knowledge just as that which is shared by others is important to our more complete understanding.

Perhaps except in the most hierarchical settings, we only ever get to the bird’s eye view through working alongside others and appreciating the insights each person has to share. It’s not easy and we certainly can’t retreat to focusing on the trees again while others worry about the forest, but it’s really a collaborative effort shared by many individuals doing their absolute best to see as complete a picture they can to be weaved into a shared narrative that will really allow us to understand what we have before this. Such strategic planning does not happen overnight or even quickly at all, but any organization ever practicing this kind of effort is very much on the right track.

How the actual strategic planning will manifest itself through this process can take on many different forms. For example, the bird’s eye view can be as straightforward (even if not necessarily simplistic) as a shared narrative from users, support staff, and administration to determine how or it can be as complex as data mining your own organization for the metrics and other empirical data that paints a more complete picture of the issues being experienced. In that sense, the bird’s eye view, when fully committed to or adopted can take us to the next level in terms of management beyond anything for which we could have previously hoped. This is not to say that this type of analysis is more important than other types of strategic planning, but it can often be very helpful to step outside the perspectives by which we generally restrict our view to consider other factors and data not otherwise on our radar. When done well, this kind of planning can be truly transformative.

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