arboretum flowersOne of my favorite ways to unwind and relax is to take my camera for a walk at the local arboretum. There’s just something about watching baby ducks play in the water or seeing the vibrant colors of spring flowers that makes me slow down and appreciate the things that are easy to overlook in our fast-paced world.

HyacinthRecently, I purchased a macro extension tube set for my camera, and I’ve had fun experimenting with some basic macro photography. But as I attempted to get the best shot, I realized that I was so focused on such a tiny part of what I was photographing that I was missing the big picture. While I appreciate the concept of macro photography and have even gotten some neat shots, I don’t want to miss seeing the sun set over the water or capturing a field of tulips swaying in the breeze because my focus is on a single petal.

As I thought about this, I realized the same is true about working as a team and managing projects. Here are a few tips to help you see the big picture with your next collaboration:

  • Remember you hold just one piece of the puzzle – Don’t overlook the contribution being made by others. It can be easy to feel like the weight of the project is on your shoulders and that it couldn’t get done without you. That might be so. But also remember that there are others on your team who might feel the same way. Recognize everyone’s contribution and find ways to help each other, even it’s just being a sounding board while a teammate talks through an idea.
  • Don’t miss the forest for the trees – Sometimes we become so focused on a task that we do so at the expense of the larger project. There may be a better way to do something that we could miss if we get so stuck in the details. Take time to step back, look at the larger picture, and evaluate your course.
  • Prepare for change – With macro photography, the slightest movement – even just pressing the shutter button to take the picture – can turn your photo into a blurry mess. To get a crisp picture, you have to be prepared with a tripod, a remote shutter release, etc. The same is true with projects, and the more important the initiative, the more devastating a change can be. When you’re planning the project, identify points where change could occur and identify a possible Plan B, where possible. Make sure your team communicates regularly, and create a risk log so that everyone can see where changes or hurdles could occur in order to minimize the risk of surprise.

Think of recent projects on which you’ve collaborated – I bet there were times that stepping back and looking at the bigger picture could have improved your results. Hop over to our Facebook page and share your ideas!