We often refer to strategy as “the big picture.” What we need to remember is that strategy too is part of a bigger picture. I had the pleasure of speaking with Wharton professor of management Stewart Friedman about a leader’s ability to manage the whole. Stew has written the bestselling book Total Leadership and has a thought-provoking blog simply titled “Stew Friedman’s blog.”

One of the points I found most interesting in our conversation was Stew’s belief that leaders need to “be real, be whole and be innovative.” When we consider strategy, these same elements are equally important. As I’ve written before, strategy inherently is about being different, not better, than the competition (be real). It’s also about the continual awareness of the four key areas of the business: market, customers, competitors and company (be whole). And finally, good strategy continually challenges old assumptions and adds new value to customers (be innovative).

Understanding that our strategy is also part of a bigger picture is critical. People, culture, organizational structure, compensation, processes, suppliers, and systems all play a role in how effective our strategy is. Taking time to assess and manage these elements of the strategy ecosystem can improve your picture–no matter how big it is.

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