Updated: Wednesday, 14 Apr 2010, 10:18 AM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 14 Apr 2010, 10:18 AM EDT
Below is a transcript of the recent 'Your Work Style: Details or Big Picture?' online chat conducted April 7th on WAVY.COM.
Brooks KXAN: Hi, and welcome to our chat on YOUR WORK STYLE! We'll start in just a moment...
Which one are you?
( 64% )
( 18% )
A little of both?
( 18% )
( 0% )
Brooks KXAN: Hi, and welcome to our chat today! We'll be discussing Your Work Style - Detail oriented, or big picture? - with our career and life coach, Melissa Schenker, founder of Work/Life Austin (www.worklifenow.com)
Thanks for being here!
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Hi!
Brooks KXAN: Hi there! Melissa, would you get us started with some opening thoughts?
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Sure.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: The more individuals know about their own work styles the better off they are. Using what you know you can seek responsibilities that are a fit for you and recognize the strengths others offer and rely on on them for those things. We've probably all noticed a basic difference between those of us who are detail oriented and those of us more focused on the big picture. Today is an opportunity to explore what that's all about.
Brooks KXAN: Is it possible to be a little of both? Or do we tend to lean toward one or the other?
JackieKXAN: I just took this quiz, and I'm a little of both, though more on the detail side! http://www.debugyourmentalsoftware.com/profile/profile7.pl
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: In general, here are some characteristics of those with a Detail orientation:
• maintain focus
• like things to be exact
• see the trees
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: And here are basic characteristics of Big Picture people:
• take in lots of information
• unconsciously sort and group it
• see the forest
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Brooks - yes, some of us can be a bit of both. Or we can be primarily one, but if our job requires the other we can push ourselves to do that.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: It'd be interesting to hear from people about what they think about your question though. It seems to me that people have a primary tendency. I've encountered detail people who could not see nor articulate the big picture at all. And, some big picture types who'd get totally bored by the details.
Brooks KXAN: Why is it important for us to know which one we lean toward most? I would think that it would relate to job satisfaction on some level, wouldn't it? Like you're frustrated or bored at work and dont know why, and it turns out that you're having to spend your time on details and not doing big-picture type work ... just a hypothetical, and certainly a guess. But woudl that be one of the benefits of knowing?
Brooks KXAN: We have more than a dozen people iwth us right now - guys, which are you? And can you be both?
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Brooks - exactly right.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Also, it can be useful for people who are detail oriented and very good at what they do, but who then are tapped to move into management. That frequently requires them to leave some of their more detailed and satisfying work behind to focus on managing (which in many ways requires a more big picture set of skills) - many people find themselves frustrated when that happens. And, yet, to "progress" they are expected to move up the ladder. It can help them to understand this facet of their personality. Either to find ways to get that sort of satisfaction that their old work brought, or to move to a different set of responsibilities.
[Comment From --: ] Im not sure what I am. I constantly need to know all the facts but then i sort them and group them, and make pros an cons lists to actually make a decision. Does that make me detail only?
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Brooks - another reason it's useful to understand this sort of thing about yourself is that it can help you understand others that you work with. Can make it easier to see who should be doing what, who to rely on for what, and to help one respect the differences.
Brooks KXAN: that's a good question ...
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: - not exactly sure which one that makes you... sounds fairly detail oriented
Brooks KXAN: Guest, scroll up a little in the chat - there's a quiz that our Jackie Vega linked to - she just found it on the internet - haven't looked at it but it might be fun to check out
Brooks KXAN: Melissa, you and i talked about more general, broader applications for this before the chat started. Can you go into that for us?
[Comment From tanatana: ] i think i am pretty detail oriented and then i find myself stuck on the big picture stuff and not so interested in the details. maybe i am just a bad details person!
[Comment From patpat: ] I completed the quiz with surprising results. I'm detail oriented - not big picture, as I like to think.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Tana - you may be naturally a big picture type, who can do details when you must....
Brooks KXAN: I'm the say way, tana
WAVY.com Web Desk/Jane: I took the quiz even though I knew what it was going to tell me. I'm totally detail-oriented.
Brooks KXAN: Jane - that doesn't surprise me! I'm not, which is a struggle in a web director's job. Thankfully, my team member Jackie totally is. :)
Brooks KXAN: My quiz has me 2/3 big picture, 1/3 detail.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: There's this concept that some of us are "scanners" and others of us are "divers." I first came across these labels in the book, "I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was," by Barbara Sher. The notion is that there are two kinds of people in the world, those that like to know a lot about a little (divers) and those who like to know a little about a lot (scanners).
Scanners tend to "scan" and gather all sorts of misc. information and get bored if they need to tunnel down deep for too long. While divers like to focus in one area and develop deep expertise and depth of knowledge.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Divers make great professors. Scanners make good management consultants.
Brooks KXAN: Scanners would make good general assignment reporters, too, as you have to become an expert on something new every day.
Divers make good investigative reporters, or even beat reporters.
Not that we probably have a ton of journalists in the room today, but i'm just sayin LOL
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Our culture tends to value divers - experts - but LOTS of us are scanners and are much happier if we have work that draws on our constant curiosity and desire for the new.
Brooks KXAN: What else? What are some other types of jobs that these two types can be good at? I think this is fascinating.
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] project planning, program management
Which one are you? Scanner or Diver?
( 75% )
( 25% )
Do you think you're in the right job for your type?
( 67% )
( 33% )
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: I was at the computer store this morning with a dead hard drive - most of the people there seem to be divers.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Engineers - divers.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Entrepreneurs - scanners.
JackieKXAN: How about when it comes to customer service? Which one do consumers/customers typically want to deal with on the customer service side?
Brooks KXAN: LOL you'd have to be to know computers
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: (Please keep in mind that I'm making major over-generalizations here!)
Brooks KXAN: of course
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Customer service - scanners probably. Right?
Brooks KXAN: That would sound right - depending maybe on what field it's in?
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: One thing about scanners is that they are probably more apt to change careers altogether than a diver. A diver might be more likely to keep going more deeply into their chosen field.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Doctors - divers
Brooks KXAN: What are the rewards for scanners and divers? Mastery, expertise, general knowledge.. What motivates a scanner vs a diver?
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: People who get bored easily - could be scanners.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Brooks - It's all about the nature of their curiosity. Scanners like variety, while divers like to more info in the same arena.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Does this concept make sense to folks? Do you know which you are?
Brooks KXAN: Here's an interview with Barbara Sher about scanners and divers ... http://www.think-differently.org/2007/06/are-you-scanner-or-deep-diver.html
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: I know I'm a scanner.
Brooks KXAN: Me, too.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Brooks - thanks for the interview link.
By the way, she first wrote that book in 1999 but the whole book is still relevant and useful. This idea is explored in Chapter 6.
Brooks KXAN: Here's what she says in the interview about scanners...
Scanners want to taste everything. They love to learn about the structure of a flower, and they love to learn about the theory of music. And the adventures of travel. And the tangle of politics. To scanners, the universe is a treasure house full of a million works of art, and life is hardly long enough to see them all.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: I've had clients who thought they were "supposed" to be divers, who were totally relieved to find out that they were "scanners" and that it was okay to be that way.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Lawyers - divers
Brooks KXAN: i think it's interesting that culture rewards divers - i can see that. I can see how scanners might be considered noncommittal, particularly if they jump from one interest to the next.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: I like how she notes in her interview that scanners are not necessarily superficial, and notes that Da Vinci was a scanner. He was accomplished in a variety of areas and his knowledge in one arena could help inform his development in another. The love of learning and discovery lead him.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: She makes another good point that divers tend to feel rewarded by financial security, depth of knowledge, and deepening of skills and experience. While a scanner may pursue rewards not necessarily well aligned with professional specialization over the long haul.
Brooks KXAN: Maybe scanners are rewarded simply by having the new knowledge or the exposure to something completely different, not necessarily mastering it like that which might motivate a diver?
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Brooks - right. Until recently career development was predicated on a diver sort of model. We were all supposed to be divers to be deemed "successful."
Brooks KXAN: More and more I'm thinking "reporter" is a perfect job for a scanner.
how about a teacher - an elementary, maybe, who teaches all subjects to the same class (as opposed to being, say, a high school history teacher or something?)
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: I think scanners link back to our initial "big picture" idea. Scanners like to gather information and it all gets linked together and helps them make sense of the world. Some of them are probably also great at connecting people.
[Comment From tanatana: ] it is interesting how things have changed in the workforce from people sticking with a career for decades to jumping around sometime sideways to get a new career. pretty scannerish, no?
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Tana - yes, pretty scannerish. I think Gen Y may be more scanner and Baby Boomers were trained to be divers.
Brooks KXAN: And Gen X? I can see where we'd be inclined toward being scanners but having ID crises becuase our parents, the boomers/silent gen wanted us to be divers and taught us that's how we're supposed to be. Sounds like my experience, anyway
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Brooks - EXACTLY. Gen X tends to want the freedom to scan if they want, or dive if they want, but were taught that only diving was valid.
Brooks KXAN: Should make college juniors with no major feel a little better LOL
[Comment From tanatana: ] my experience has been similar. started in one career intending to do it forever then finding myself leaving for something else after ten years or so... but always in jobs that provide lots of variety on a daily basis! at least i am consistent in that respect.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Many of them end up in my office very dissatisfied with their careers but feeling badly about themselves for wanting something different.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Tana - scanner!
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] I am a detail oriented person, but owning my own business, I would consider myself a scanner, because I have to have knowledge of many aspects of the industry. At different times I may be diving into varying endeavors, scanning lots of possibilities.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: I'm a classic scanner - loved management consulting because you were constantly faced with new situations. You might be able to develop expertise in an area, or using a particular framework, but the clients and specific problems would change.
Brooks KXAN: In my experience, there was a conflict between loving my work as a newspaper reporter passionately, and wanting to do something else out of curiosity. But being afraid to try because how could i love anything as much i loved that job? But then being afraid NOT to try because WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE TO BE A ROCKSTAR? or something totally different. Still a conflict.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Guest - yes, you have to scan when you own your own business. But it might be that you have had to learn that, and sometimes force yourself to do it....
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Brooks - along those lines (but different) I had a friend who loved job interviewing because with different sort of job, he'd pretend he actually lived that life. He thought it was a blast to try on all the different hats. And, it was a great way to help him to choose something that was a good fit for him.
Brooks KXAN: I saw a mention in that Barbara Sher interview of a "deep scanner" - it seemed to be a question someone had about if that was possible to be ...
Brooks KXAN: Just go in and interview for something totally different? Sea World, here i come!
[Comment From tanatana: ] melissa - the professional job interviewer! how appropriate for these times. too bad we can't make money doing the interviews!!!
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: A deep scanner seems possible to me. The sort who draws on a lot of different disciplines.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Tana - funny.
Brooks KXAN: A policy researcher would be a good fit for that 'deep scanner' type, i would think, no? For example, a policy analyst for a lawmaker would have to do deep hardcore research on bills ranging from healthcare to traffic fatalities to the legal system so that their boss could know how to vote.
Brooks KXAN: FOUR MINUTES LEFT - got any more questions or thoughts, visitors?
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Brooks - yes, that makes sense (I've been one of those too).
Brooks KXAN: I've thought about doing that myself at some point, too
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] nice discussion
Brooks KXAN: I agree... Ok Melissa, ready to give us some final words on this? Scanners/Divers and Detail/Big picture/
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: sure...
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Just remember when you're frustrated with yourself or those around you, it can help to get back in touch with your own big picture - who you are and what drives you. It may be time to get back in sync, or to recognize that those close to you are a different type but still valid in their own useful way.
Melissa Schenker, Work/Life: Till next time!
Brooks KXAN: Excellent advice, thank you! This was a great discussion today - thanks everyone for being here, and particularly Melissa. You can find her at www.worklifenow.com - she's a pro life/career coach, and we thank you so much for joining us!
Have a great week, scanners, divers, detail-oriented and big picture types!
Over and Out
Opinions that are derogatory, attack other users or are offensive in nature may be removed. WAVY is not responsible for the content posted in this comment section. We reserve the right to remove any offensive or off-topic remark or thread. To mark a comment for review by a moderator, click "Flag as inappropriate."