> Do you think this is true even of CS PhDs? I feel like in my research group, there is a real chance for any of we (students) to do this, but AFAIK I am the only one who has ever really thought about it, because my colleagues tend to keep their noses in the books and focus on narrow technical concerns, whereas I'm really a big-picture thinker. So: in my case, plenty of opportunity, just not much interest among actual PhD students.
My experience is mostly of C.S./Machine Learning PhDs. Let me give you an illustration. Say you spend your entire PhD figuring out one specific problem in recommendation systems, like for example, building optimization algorithms where the error rate is 6% or so. This is incredibly cool stuff but when you go out into the real world, you don't necessarily need that fancy algorithm inorder to solve problems. Really simple stuff works and the way production code works, keep it simple stupid is an important thing!