Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Geography of Thought: Big Picture vs Minutiae

It is not common to hear a corporate debate in which one colleague, usually the boss(Person A), in an effort to win the argument against a reluctant colleague(Person B), says, " Come on, look at the big picture". The subtext is that Person B is looking at only one small part of the problem and trying to solve only that, whereas, according to the Person A, the problem needs a holistic view. It is a corporate tradeoff, that many have encountered so many times.

This very much is an issue in intercultural communication and behaviour. We have seen Americans who start the discussion this way:

"Let's come straight to the point. This happened because the engine chamber overheated "

The discussion is centred around a small problem, which is isolated from the beginning and everything else is turned 'external' or extraneous.

Then one sees colleagues from Japan and China, who labour around a broad area for very long, and then coming to the point ("Overall, the car has come out nice. The engine power is also in the expected range, and so is the fuel efficiency. The riding comfort is also good and the vehicle is quite safe on the Indian roads. However, in my personal opinion, the engine lining is not interacting with the surface properly, whereas the rest of the engine is operating fine").

Such variation in behaviour is a major workplace issue and often causes conflict.

I think the key is in not being judgmental and in being patient and observational. 
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