“See the big picture”-31 May 2011

Such stories abound in fiction. When they take place in fact, they are amazing. This is about a young man who happened to get a decent job as management executive in a really big company with several divisions, each with its own big boss and its own line of authority. For Akhil, the entire experience was like a fairy tale. He came from a small place. He had gone to a rural school where he had done well. In college in a nearby bigger town, too, he did well. His simplicity and straightforwardness earned him the job at the campus interview. So amazed Akhil was that all he saw in the first-ever job was his own section in the big division. He was in a continual state of awe about everything around him, smartly-dressed colleagues, swanky offices etc.
Then one day, the big boss of the division came to address the ‘crowd’ (as the employees called themselves). In his brilliant and very impressive speech, the big boss, an extra-ordinarily handsome middle-aged man, appealed everybody to ‘see the big picture’ of the company. Akhil, being a quick and keen learner started making efforts to see the big picture of the company. He read company history, promotional literature, talked endlessly to seniors to know the big picture. A year passed. Two years went by. Akhil’s efforts continued while most others scoffed at him. They ridiculed him, accused of being the ‘chamcha’ of the big boss. In fact, Akhil never saw the big boss again after the speech meeting. For the big boss, he was just one of the hundreds of employees. But, Akhil kept his efforts on to see the big picture.
Slowly, the picture started forming in his mind – about the company, its past, its future, its place in the market and in the economy. That influenced Akhil’s overall behavior, which his seniors started appreciating. Then came an internal promotion test which everybody took. There was a subjective and hypothetical question about what the executive would do were he to be made the CEO. Akhil’s answer was different, far superior to what others had written in response to the question. The result came and many were promoted, including Akhil. But, he was pulled up three rungs of the ladder in one stroke. He was asked to join the office of the big boss, in the strategic planning section. At a raw young age of 26, Akhil was on an upward trajectory.
One day, mustering courage, Akhil walked into the big boss’ chamber, and asked him a straight question: “Sir, what in my personality has brought me right here in your office?” The big boss smiled. He said, “Young man, only your essay carried a big picture. I want such people.”
Subsequent story is would read almost like fiction. Akhil has been moving up very fast. Still in his mid thirties, he has become one of the most important members of the senior cadre. The big boss has become the company’s CEO, and Akhil has moved with him to the Head Office.
This is not an isolated story. In corporate world, many such stories are told and heard. Those who refuse to jump the small frame chug along with the ‘crowd’. The persons who see the big picture become more eligible to rise faster on the ladder. And all they need to do is to follow three basic rules:
One, they have to decide early on that they are a part of the big picture. That will change their outlook and fill their eyes with big dreams.
Two, they have to get prepared for a lonely way up, away from the ‘crowd’. For, when you see the big picture and pursue it, then you are more likely to be left to yourself by the crowd that would never mind poking fun at you.
And three, they have to know really what the big picture is.

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