"I am afraid you are not seeing the big picture here. Your suggestion is all right from your standpoint but does not fit into the big picture."
There was a time in childhood when you graduated from seeing pictures and moved on to reading. THAT change, I thought, was permanent but was soon disabused of the notion once I joined office. Apparently, reading is an exercise that is enforced by the teaching profession and, the moment you got free of their hegemony, you reverted back to pictures. What else can explain the fact that you cannot explain that your profits have doubled, in words, but, the moment you put up a bar chart with one bar twice the size of the other, the bulbs in the heads of your top brass light up with realization as they exclaim, "Ah! The profits have doubled" with all the enthusiasm of a Buddha who has realized the path to Nirvana?
Be that as it may, I do not think that this was precisely what my boss meant when he said the first sentence to me - simply because what I HAD suggested was not a means to color the bar chart nor would it have lent itself to pictorial depiction. Of course, it is the bane of the boss that not everything can be readily put in as pictures in a slide presentation, though Power-point is probably working to solve that issue.
If my boss did not mean that the suggestion was worthless merely because it could not be put in a picture - BIG or otherwise - what exactly did he mean? Maybe what he meant was that in a Creation probably full of millions of universes; in a Universe full of millions of galaxies; in a galaxy full of millions of stars; in a planet full of millions of beings, a suggestion that would add a few lakhs to the bottom-line of a company was not really fitting? Unlikely, because this is the man who, just yesterday, harangued me for half an hour because my computations had a error of .01 in a figure, that we would have rounded off to the nearest rupee anyway, AND it would round off to the same amount with or without the error. That does not argue for a person seeing the insignificance of human endeavor in the big picture.
Maybe, he was taking the point of view that the ultimate purpose of being born human was to purify one's soul and all these attempts at corporate achievement were mere vanity? That one, too, did not seem to fit, considering that his secretary was still in tears after the shellacking she got over the fact that she had failed to print his designation in bold in a letter.
Waiting for him to explain the big picture was a waste of time. I have invariably found that the boss who throws the big picture at you to trash your suggestion seldom bothers to elucidate exactly what it was and why your suggestion does not fit. The ones, who give reasons for why your suggestion does not fit, seldom invoke any picture - big or otherwise. Seemed to me that the usage of 'Big Picture' normally meant, "I am BIG (bigger than you at least). Better get THAT picture clear in your mind and behave accordingly". I worked with this as a first step approximation to the meaning of that phrase and it never let me down.
I came back home and my nephew had his complaints.
"Just because I have exams does not mean that I should not see TV at all."
"You need to see the big picture here"
"Uncle! I would love to. The problem is that my dad will just not turn in this piddly little 22" TV for something 40+ or 50+"
Now THAT was the sort of big picture that made sense to me!