The next time somebody tells you they see the “Big Picture,” ask them to show you a copy of it. Then ask them why they haven't provided copies to everybody else in your organization. Because what's more important than everyone in a company sharing the same strategic vision?

The truth is, as much as organizations talk about the Big Picture, few have fulfilled their quest to actually make it a physical reality. And sorry, the following don't count: 100-page business plans, wordy white papers, and PowerPoints filled with bullet points, complex flow charts, and cliché images of people in suits shaking hands.

Nice try, but that's not going to work in a media-savvy business world.

If you have something important to say, you're going to have to tell it with the right images. And then back it up with text and numbers. Now more than ever, people expect you to get right to the point, and for you to do the hard work of figuring out what's really important to them.

Yesterday, it was important for executives to be able to take complex ideas and distill them down to bullet points. Today, executives have to translate their most important strategy into images.

If you want to break through the clutter and communicate clearly, you're literally going to have to deliver what you said you would: a Big Picture. That's right, a single picture that communicates everything you want to say. It would likely include your organization's strategic focus, revenue models, financial goals, project timelines and resources.

You and everyone in your organization could easily look at such an image to focus your work on meeting your goals. You could quickly observe how everything works together, and see a source of ongoing inspiration and innovation.

If Big Pictures actually existed, there would be much less confusion, complexity and contradiction in the business world.

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image of Cliff Atkinson

Cliff Atkinson is an author, speaker, and consultant who translates complex ideas into communications that get results at He is the author of the bestselling Beyond Bullet Points, published in four editions by Microsoft Press.

LinkedIn: Cliff Atkinson