Think Big

As you look toward 2012, think big.

Back in June 2010, I posted this quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower

Whenever I run into a problem I can’t solve, I always make it bigger.  I can never solve it by trying to make it smaller, but if I make it big enough I can begin to see the outlines of a solution.”

In that post I wrote:

If you’re driving a change that only solves your problem look around for others who share your concern and make the change you’re driving big enough to include their concerns.  In large organizations the charge to “make it big enough” is especially important if you want to gain sway over the powers that control company-wide policy or procedures.

For 2012 I encourage you to think big, very big.  There are real problems that deserve solutions and we aren’t going to solve them by playing small.

What change are you going to drive in 2012?  How big can you make it?

1 thought on “Think Big”

  1. The trouble with Ike’s (and other aphorisms) is that they are like bumper stickers and many traffic signs-hard to apply in specific contexts. I can think of many instances where making a problem bigger is a very bad idea since bigger problems taking bigger applications of power to “solve” and often become so complicated that they become intractable. My approach, even if I had a grand, big change in mind, was to find ways to make it smaller, so people could easily “see” the path ahead and the new behavior and thinking expected of them. In “Making Sense of the Organization,” Karl Weick has an article developing the notion of celebrating small wins called “Small Wins: Redesigning the Scale of Social Problems.” He argues that large scale of some problems (like why the US Navy cannot build less expensive ships or why costs at Naval Shipyards are so high) actually impedes innovation because leaders are always seeking silver bullets (like eTWD). He suggested that successful change is more likely from a series of “small wins” that can be built into a pattern of effective action.

    There is also an article in the May 2011 HBR, “The Power of Small Wins” (you can get a preview by searching for “power of small wins”) and the “small is better” is the major theme of Switch (the “new” book by the Heath brothers, Dan and Chip).

    My view is that bigger is almost never better when it comes to problems and change.

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