October 10, 2017


By Andrew at 11:28 PM

As humans, it can be difficult to maintain a broad view of our surroundings while functioning simultaneously amongst the details. To be comprehensive, though, it is necessary to hold a view that is constantly considering the details while holding an awareness of an impact at large.

In many industries, entry-level roles often function as the training grounds through which employees obtain experience in and awareness of the minutia of a process. Later on, if they continue along the same track, they may be tasked with additional responsibilities. These new responsibilities may involve more of the same sorts of tasks, or they may not appear to be related at all. However, more often than not, these “unrelated” tasks will, in truth, build upon the previous tasks, allowing them to make decisions based upon their awareness of how things work at a base level. To an extent this can work for the CEO who makes his start in the mailroom, and I believe that the CEO is the stronger for having such a familiarity with those who ultimately report to the top.
Those who are able to take on additional responsibilities do so since they operate with an awareness of the basic tasks (micro), but are also able to step back far enough to view the whole and how the various tasks interact with each other. Similarly, they have to be able to return from the high-level (macro) view to address the basic components when things do not guide toward an ultimate goal. The ability to switch from macro to micro seamlessly is an extremely tough skill, a skill not commonly found without having been taught.
Having a micro-view of a macro process allows for more accuracy, while a macro-view of a micro process allows for cohesiveness. Getting caught up in the individual brush strokes on a paint-by-number may make for a technically complete image and still be skewed. The broad iconography of a stick figure may convey the impression of a person and yet be a poor visual representation. Ultimately, such situations merit a balance between detail and a wide vantage point, which is the part that requires practice to achieve.
Part of the difficulty arises from the concept of comprehension. There is only so much that the human mind can focus on simultaneously, which can restrict the completeness of the micro-view. The macro-view could therefore seem more easily attainable, but without a corresponding micro-view the macro-view is of limited use. Without the micro, the macro essentially becomes guesswork, which, in and of itself could still work out, but the effectiveness will likely be limited.
Moving into upper-level management is a difficult prospect for good reason, as the necessary skills routinely involve a comprehension of the macro and micro view of the industry simultaneously. And while such an understanding is not a prerequisite for most of these roles, I like to think it helps with the effectiveness. If nothing else, my goal in the film/animation industry is to learn as much as I can about the micro so I can contribute more completely at the macro level in the future.

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