The Overview Effect (And Why It Is Important)
The Overview Effect describes the cognitive shift some astronauts and cosmonauts experience when they first see our planet in the context of the wider universe. Carl Sagan aimed to achieve a similar shift in thinking when he asked NASA to turn around the Voyager 1 space probe on its way to the outer solar system and take the famous “pale blue dot” picture or Earth.
The Overview Effect is so effective in shifting one’s perspective as it allows one to see, for the first time with their own eyes, the big picture: Our blue planet in relationship to its solar system and the universe at large.
A similar effect takes place when people see and understand the entirety of a venture. In the beginning, this is easy — the proverbial “two founders in a garage” of course know their company inside-out. Moreover, for your first few hires, this is still not a challenge. However, once you grow to a dozen people, the moment when you start splitting responsibilities and surely the moment you hire people to manage others — the Overview Effect for your little universe (your startup) can get lost.
Great leaders spend a good chunk of their time making sure everyone in their company understands the big picture and sees how her piece fit into that puzzle — they create their version of the Overview Effect for their team.
How much do you think does everybody in your organization see your whole universe and understands their place in it? If your answer is not a clear “Everyone” spend some time making people see it. It is of paramount importance and can lead to cognitive shifts in your people.
P.S. Here is a wonderful short film about said effect.