Can’t See The Forest for the Trees


Dictionary.Com: “An expression used of someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole”.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the details of a project, or job, or worship service that it’s really easy to overlook the big picture.  I experienced this recently while trying to figure out a method for delivering a signal to our stage display.  Here’s what happened:

1.  We recently converted our video system from one running on a composite video backbone to HD-SDI.  So our feeds to the stage displays are HD-SDI and are converted to a flavor of VGA at the televisions on the stage.  That makes it super-easy to route whatever we want to the stage displays.

2.  We decided we wanted to scrap the tv’s on stage, and hang a large LCD on the face of our balcony.  Sounds easy enough.  So I  immediately started thinking, “How can we get our SDI signal to the front of the balcony?”  And “am I willing to tie up one of our high def scan converters for a stage display when I know I’m going to need it to route signals to projectors in the room?”  I spent a LOT of time and energy stressing over how we were going to do this without spending a lot of money.

3.  Then it hit me – “Why am I even thinking about SDI at all for our stage display”?  All I needed to do was send a VGA signal to my new display.  Sounds pretty simple, huh?  My problem was that I immediately started thinking in the same paradigm I started in.  I didn’t back up enough to get the whole picture. I paid too much attention to how we had been doing it.

4.  Once I got my head right, we hung the new tv, and sent the VGA signal to it from ProPresenter.  Done.

This was definitely proof of Ockham’s razor, which basically says “the simplest explanation is usually the correct one”.  How true.

A couple of suggestions to help you see the forest, in spite of all those trees . . .

  • Talk through scenarios with others.  And it doesn’t have to be another tech person.  Sometimes someone with limited knowledge of your field can help you arrive at the best solutions simply because they are not bound by your assumptions.
  • Ask yourself these questions: What is the overall objective here?  What is the big picture?  What do I have already to help me accomplish this goal?  In my case, I realized that I already had Cat 5 cable between my production room and the location I was to mount the television.  Coupled with a pair of cat 5 baluns that were in my desk drawer, I had a complete solution without ordering one piece of additional cable or hardware.
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