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Helicopter view

Question:

Quite often I hear managers say they are taking a helicopter view of an organization and its activities. Other people say they need to look at the problem from 30,000 feet. Is there a way we can talk about this without using jargon?

Answer:

In general, helicopters do not fly above 10,000 feet (that’s 3,000 metres, but the aviation world talks in feet). Thus, a helicopter view is not as high as a 30,000-foot view, but the idea is the same. These phrases actually mean to get a fresh perspective and see things differently, in order to be more productive and make operations run smoothly.

These expressions once were colourful metaphors, but they have become clichés; you should try to avoid such overused phrases in your communications. We would suggest taking a fresh (or broader) perspective, getting an overview or looking at the whole system as less clichéd alternatives.