broad brush

You will often hear the term “broad brush” used to describe someone’s attitude to life. It’s generally  used to describe someone who doesn’t focus on details too much; sometimes swapped for  “she’s a big picture person”.

It’s immediately clear that the person being described this way isn’t going to spend much time learning the intricate details of a situation before pondering a problem for days on end to find a solution.

No, the Big Picture or Broad Brush person is going to get a quick feel for a problem and make decisions based on a gut feeling, and we are typically made to feel that this is less than desirable, that maybe a bad decision is imminent and that the problem hasn’t been considered fully enough. Maybe we’d be better with a detail person on this job, maybe a guy that will count every nut and bolt could do this better…a specialist instead of a generalist.

In some cases this might well be correct, but the backlash or fall out from this is that we start to think that specialists are always better than generalists, that broad brush is inferior to painting every last whisker on the cat.

You’ll know my view on this if you’ve seen any of my presbyopic art…broad brush is my default position on everything. Details give me a headache.

In a crisis, or even on a project,  where you need to survive, or even just succeed, getting stuck with the wrong specialist or specialism could be fatal.

Photo Credit: Kira Held via Compfight cc

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