The President's Blog

Seeing the big picture

March 21st, 2016

I know most people are familiar with the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” It is often used in a negative way to describe someone who cannot see the “big picture” because they are too caught up in the small details. I know I have used the saying many times in my life when dealing with leadership and organizational challenges that require a “big picture” view. An event this week caused me to reflect on this statement and question the application of the premise to our operations as a college.

During a recent visit to one of our campuses, I was able to meet a number of students in a very informal manner. I was introduced to them and given a bit of their background story. I was struck by the perseverance and dedication of the students as they worked to improve their academic skills and meet their educational goals. While it was only a brief encounter, the small glimpse of their individual personal stories provided me with some insight into our work as a college. 

We are in the process of developing a new strategic plan which is very much a “big picture” activity. We are trying to paint a clearly defined picture of the forest we see in front of us. What should be our overarching priorities? How do we best address these priorities? What will we look like when we have reached our goals?

Thanks to the students I met the other day, I think I am much better equipped to face these “big picture” questions. There are many individual stories that collectively come together to make Parkland College. While we focus on the “big picture”, we cannot lose sight of the many pieces that come together to create our identity. We must find a way to not only see the forest but also pay attention to the trees. In reality, there is no forest without the trees.

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