Overview. The view from an elevated point, from which one can see across an expanse.
Ich habe den Überblick verloren. I have lost overview. Er überblickt die Sache nicht mehr. He no longer has an overview of the situation. These are statements one often hears in Germany. The details, and the kinds of details, have become too great to maintain an understanding of the situation. Germans place high value on Überblick (overview), on understanding a situation as a whole, as a system.
Überblick is especially important in those professions where the details are critical: air traffic controllers, project management, every kind of logistical coordination.
Durchblick: Literally through-view; view, perspective between, through, into a situation; to grasp the interrelations, connections, mutual influences.
Er hat den Durchblick. He has through-view. Er blickt da voll durch. He totally sees through the situation. Blicken Sie durch? Do you have through-view? These are typical sentences in German. Those who “see through” know what they’re talking about, understand both the details and the big picture. A Durchblicker knows a topic through and through and is on the path to becoming a true expert.
Durchblick is expecially important in those professions where a high level of expertise is demanded, such as in the natural sciences, nuclear physics, in the most sophisticated areas of surgery.
Umsicht: Literally view around. Intelligent, goal-oriented awareness of all important factors necessary to make wise, reflected decisions.
The Germans are considered to be people with Umsicht. They avoid unnecessary risk, shy away from situations involving factors which they cannot calculate. “Vorsicht ist die Mutter der Porzellankiste” (Carefulness is the mother of the porcelain) is a well-known German figure of speech. Germans are careful, umsichtig (aware of their surroundings). They take their time, proceed tentatively.
Umsicht is especially important in those areas where mistakes have significant negative effects: airline pilots, train conductors, legislators, and of course medical physicians.