Big picture

Of course everybody knows what a big picture is – literally – a humongous piece of art.  But “big picture” as a phrase or expression is also used in business (and other more figurative) settings where it has another meaning.

The really big picture, pic:

For example, if somebody says: “let me give you the big picture” he or she is about to give you a broad, high-level overview, an overall perspective of an issue or a problem – not a detailed discussion of all the nitty-gritties.  Big picture also implies a comprehensive perspective – you would expect to get the full story and not just part of it.

The expression is used to indicate that one does not want/need all the details but wants to get an overview first, for example in a meeting.

“Before we talk about specific technical requirements and how to implement, let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.  What do we want to accomplish?  What is the time frame and what budget do we have at our disposal.”

Big picture has become a bit of a cliche however, it is a useful expression and conveys its meaning well.

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