Big Picture Understanding

The book I’ve been reading this month which I highly recommend is called ‘The Proactive Professional: How to Stop Playing Catch Up and Start Getting Ahead at Work’ by Chrissy Scivicque. This book has really inspired me and I have learnt so much that I’m going to share the first of the six essential elements to The Proactive Skillset with you - ‘Big Picture Understanding’.

Chrissy defines The Proactive Skillset as “the ability to use broad business acumen to synthesize information and create a holistic view of the professional environment”. Developing this skill is about gaining perspective on all the people, things, situations and events that are influencing your world. If you don’t appreciate the things that are impacting your life, you will not be able to be proactive.

To gain Big Picture Understanding, you must start at the highest point and get increasingly specific:

The Economy:

Most of your peers prefer to remain blissfully ignorant of global, national, regional and local news and economic trends, these may seem distance in terms of time or location but you may suddenly be in the middle of it. By preparing for the economic possibilities of the future you will be able to make smarter, better informed decisions. 

Your Industry:

No industry remains stagnant for long, so, to get ahead at work, you need to understand what’s happening at a macro level to help you operate more effectively at a micro level. It helps you prepare for the inevitable changes and make well-informed choices. 

Your Professional Field:

A professional field is made up of individuals in the same line of work. As your field evolves, it is important to stay connected and stay up to date with things that may influence your career. To stay ahead, it may mean developing a new skill, obtaining a new certificate or simply refining your processes so that don’t lose your competitive edge. 

Your Organisation:

The purpose of your role is to help the organisation achieve its goals and objectives, as they tend to shift frequently, it is important to not lose sight of your purpose. If you do not stay aligned, you will spend more time reacting to short term needs rather than proactively addressing things that contribute value, therefore wasting time, energy and resources.

Your Team:

Synergy is where the combined efforts of a team is greater than separate efforts. Synergy is only made possible with perspective and it requires each team member to know their role and work together to allocate resources effectively.


Being proactive means recognising the other elements while also taking responsibility for what you create and seeing your own influence on your own world. Reactive people see themselves as a victim of circumstance, but proactive people respond to, and affect, external factors the way they want. 


Big Picture Understanding is the first step to being proactive. By growing your awareness of the things that are happening around you which could affect your career, you can now be prepared for it and get ahead rather than playing catch up.

Author Chrissy Scivicque suggests doing the following to develop big picture understanding:

  • Read six business related books per year 
  • Read one publication for your industry per month
  • Read publications on local, national and global news each week
  • Read the material produced for, by, or about your organisation
  • Engage in training activities
  • Listen to TED talks:

Want more?

The books below are some of Chrissy’s business related reading recommendations:

  • How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by John C. Maxwell - View here on Goodreads​
  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
    View here on Goodreads​
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey - View here on Goodreads



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