I think I was first asked the question if I liked ‘looking the big picture’ or if I liked ‘understanding the details’ when I was at school. The purpose of this question was to filter responders into scientific subjects, that were often pushed strongly, like Maths, Science and Engineering, or subjects that were ‘not science’. Not reductionist, but more big picture perhaps. Answering questions that didn’t have just one answer.
I answered yes to both options. Can I look at the big picture and understand the details please? Apparently not, from my experience at least. I had to choose.
For various reasons I had a strong push towards science. I grew up in a northern steel town for one.
So I was steered towards science, and ending up a BSc Physics with Maths, and into IT. I think this is one of the worst decisions I’ve made. I often didn’t find the subjects easy, but I can apply myself until I understand something, so I was successful up to a point. But I’m in a hole I’d like to get out of.
I’m naturally inquisitive, but I’ve found that I ask questions like, ‘This is is cool, how can I use it to do good things‘ at the front of my mind, and not ‘can I take this apart to see how it works‘.
I started learning Systems Thinking a few months ago. One of the greatest things about this is I now know how I think, I have names for my approaches, and a language to discuss thinking. It’s allowed me to show my mental working, and has massively expanded my ability to think clearly, and communicate my ideas, including how I arrived at them. It only took 20 years of reductionism, that saw my interest in problems diminish as I tackled the same thing with a different name.
Back to the original question. Should an answer of ‘both’ allowed? Should holistic thinking be recognised as a mental skill including some specialist understanding? Are thinking skills being wasted, because there is no category for both, and education is either / or?
I’m learning to understand strategic big picture tools as a hobby. I’d like to make it part of my career. I’m still working that one out.