Can not see the forest for the trees …

Forest of trees at the end of autumn; leaves have fallen.
(Photo: JPlenio / Pixabay)

Think about the following sentence: "can not see the forest for the trees."

The urban dictionary gives this meaning to the sentence:

When you are too close to a situation, you need to step back and take a step back. When you do, you will notice that there was an entire forest that you could not see before because you were too close and centered on the trees.

Simply, you focused on the many details and did not manage to see the whole picture, the impression or the key point.

This phrase made me think of a situation that occurred this summer when the national readiness level reached 5 (maximum on the forest fire scale). The fire was burning everywhere. Citizens lost their property and their lives. There were no resources to save.

One day, a member of the IMT called the representative of his agency to challenge the decision of a multi-agency National Coordination Group (NMAC) to transfer resources from one fire to another . The move did not go well with the team member who was losing resources.

It was a clear example of the team member who could not see the forest for the trees. He was responsible for this fire (the individual tree in the forest), but only in the context of the broader situation. The representative of the agency recommended the team member to zoom out and reflect on the situation as a whole. His incident, important as it was, was not remotely comparable to the ravages of other fires across the country.

This scenario is a combined paradox of the sentence and can be adapted to many situations. Choose yours! As a leader, it is our duty to take care of the forest and to focus our teams on individual trees.

Leadership challenge in forest fires – Fucking a little further

  • While the West is looking at its season of fires and other parts of the nation
    prepare for the upcoming season, take a moment to make sure as
    Chefs do their job to take care of the forest (overview).
  • How do we make decisions keeping in mind the forest (overview) when the tree (our task) is under our responsibility?
  • Do your homework: Forest Fire Chiefs have a duty to define roles and responsibilities so that
    members have a clear picture of what they are
    supposed to do (take care of the tree) and how they fit into the bigger

the author: Pam McDonald is a writer / editor for BLM Wildland Fire
Training and development of the workforce and NWCG management
Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.