080820 Big Picture

On August 20, 2008, in All, Daily News, Futures, JohnSumser.com, by John Sumser

(August 20, 2008) It’s like watching thousands of ants close up. You’re sure there’s a pattern. You can only see it by standing back.


And keep your hand on your wallet.

Have you seen the stuff in artificial intelligence about single function robots? The idea is to have a task accomplished by little tiny machines that do one little tiny thing over and over again. Like ants, this form of intelligence can surmount incredible obstacles.

That’s how Silicon Valley is beta testing its latest tools these
days. Take a close look. Lots of ants, no big picture. Lots of ants claiming lots of things, no big picture. Millions of ants all over the furniture.

It makes me itchy.

The reason you have to spend time figuring out a big picture is that
the little ant-like stuff can’t give you guidance. You need a big picture to guide the ants. You need a grand scheme to make sense of the incoming data.

No matter how often you twitter, you can’t twitter your way into strategic value. While it’s true that you can learn the nuances of digging by working with a shovel, it’s virtually impossible to learn landscape design by shovelling. You have to know both. Digging is insufficient training for architecture. Architecture is an adequate reason to learn how to dig.

Big picture first, details second.

Much of what passes for strategic consulting boils down to "Here’s some cool stuff you can do with these new tools." Lots of wannabe consultants present their experience digging as if it were a degree in Architecture. Sadly, they don’t know the difference.

Developing a big picture takes a little while. Much of what you have to do (like an English course in the business department) doesn’t seem immediately relevant. It’s the depth and breadth you get from exposure to big ideas that makes it possible to understand the real utility of the new tools.

So, we’re going to start talking about the long view, the grand scenario, the vision thing, the big pic..

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