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Change of perspective - Why a change of perspective is good for the company

27/05/2022 2022/05

Just walk in someone else's shoes - if perspective changes were so easy, why don't we undertake them more often? Whether looking from the inside of the company to the outside, from me to a colleague or even my manager - it is sometimes not so easy to take a different perspective. All this requires a deep examination both with myself and with the subject or my counterpart. 

Why do we need perspective shifts?

In the case of a recent event, that's exactly what would have helped me and my colleagues. When planning our last leadership seminar, we were also concerned with designing an activity for the evening. Since we met in Saxon Switzerland, it made sense to plan a hike through and over the rocks of the national park. The description of a route as "suitable for children" was enough for me to choose exactly that. I also told my colleagues in advance that we would be doing a short hike one evening. I assumed that said it all - for me, at least, that would have been enough. But I quickly realized that a perspective change would have been appropriate. Having arrived and finished the first day of the seminar, we set off. The first revelation - a colleague didn't bring suitable hiking clothes, let alone shoes, because he had read out that we were going for a leisurely walk. Not so bad, we are flexible after all and the path is suitable for children. We were able to persuade our colleague, who was wearing a business casual look with protective work shoes, which he fortunately had with him in the car, to walk the route anyway. We reached the first tricky point after a short run over roots and scree. In front of us, an iron ladder rose 5 meters up the rock face. Already at this point some colleagues had to swallow hard that it went so fast in the height. The situation was aggravated by very narrow and high places over the rocks. Some stations between the rocks were even too narrow for carrying the backpack on the back. In the end, the joint excursion in nature with challenging places turned into a not-so-comfortable expansion of the comfort zones of individual colleagues combined with a test of team spirit. What would my perspective shift have changed during the planning stage?

Our working world is facing various challenges. Not only the change from an employer's market to an employee's market is shaping this change, but also the desire for a new flexibility when it comes to work. To address these issues and come up with new ideas, we need a change of perspective in many places. But what can this look like? We've given it some thought to find answers and good reasons for the change in perspective.

How does a perspective change work?

We often generate new ideas unconsciously. In research, the view is even becoming established that we can endure boredom, even bring it about, in order to be creative. This is rather difficult to imagine in a work context. However, we can actively promote a perspective change using various methods. 

On the personal level. 

Especially in relation to oneself, the perspective change can be an effective method for new insights, own well-being and a changed self-perception. Our brain is specialized in reducing the complexity of our environment, which incessantly assaults us. To do this, it uses the familiar thought highways that have formed throughout our lives. They are efficient, work without surprises and, above all, they save energy. All this at the price of a very selective perception with similar processes and little creativity. We walk through the world with blinders on most of the time, so to speak.  

On the personal level, we are also often our biggest critic. Why not simply change the perspective here already once in self-talk - yes that helps - what would you advise a good friend, a colleague? Because thoughts become words, become actions.

Even if the demand we make on ourselves is the highest, we will never be able to completely discard this sense of entitlement in our dealings with one another. So it happens that when planning a leisurely hike at the end of a seminar day, they completely disregard the fact that not everyone seeks adventure or likes to challenge themselves and easily overcome their own fears. 

Especially in teams, i.e. in the interaction between each other or between managers and employees, it is a great benefit if each individual dares to change perspectives every now and then. At the same time, it creates a bond within the team if we simply question how something is perceived by our colleagues. This is an important step towards psychological security in teams and also serves to resolve conflicts. It creates space for exchange, for completely different perspectives, makes empathy tangible and provides thought-provoking impulses as well as the potential to find completely new solutions in the team. 

Graphical representation of different perspectives of team members
How does a change of perspective work?
How does a change of perspective work?

At the corporate level.

Those who look at the corporate level are often told that we are allowed to think outside the box in order to make future-relevant and strategic decisions. Thinking in practical terms - anyone who believes that the biggest competition for German airlines is from cheap airlines from abroad has not yet thought about the providers of video communication platforms. These dynamic market changes in particular, as well as crises or even wars, call for an increased ability to innovate on the part of companies today. With the help of a methodically founded perspective change, they can meet this innovation pressure in the first step on a creative idea level. 

With the random principle, for example, random inputs are chosen from the categories pictures, words, people, fanatic figures. Let's say you are planning an employee event and the input would be "water" - which activities have to do with water? This variant is suitable for open questions, which allows a wide range of initial suggestions. 

More effective in a corporate context may be the people or competitor perspective. For example, "What would Tim Cook, Cawa Younosi, Magdalena Rogl, or Angela Merkel do?" or as in the example above, "How would Zoom, The New Narrative, or SAP solve the problem?"
Of course, directions can also provide a perspective change. Whether into the future or the past, from the inside or the outside, on the people or the processes, all of these hats or glasses change the perspective with which we view challenges. When it comes to hats, you may also think of De Bono's six hats method. In this method, a challenge is viewed from six different perspectives. 

Thus, by changing hats, you work on different solution options and new input for the company or your customers.

A headstand for a successful perspective change

How now headstand? New German, the method is also called "reverse brainstorming", is suitable both on a personal and corporate level. Whether alone or in a team, it is a wonderful method and very much suits our often problem-oriented way of thinking. Especially when searching for answers or possible difficulties, it helps us to "turn questions on their head". Our brain is often already programmed to recognize errors, risks and problems. In doing so, we take advantage of exactly this. Examples like:

  • How do we make the project fail?
  • How do we make our employees really unhappy?
  • How do our values remain just empty phrases?
  • How do we best neglect the wishes of our customer?
  • and much more. - What is your example?

For each of these questions we can think of different answers. Let it work and really fall into it. Afterwards, positive action impulses and To Do's can be derived for each answer, which in turn contribute to the success of the project, employee satisfaction, a value-oriented company or the over-fulfillment of customer wishes. 

Conclusion: Who benefits the most from a perspective change?

What emerges is that we arrive at new perspectives by asking different kinds of questions of ourselves or in the team. In the end, our hike was not a disaster either. At the same time, the lack of a perspective shift can lead to a real mood killer or even to a loss of trust in the colleague or, in other examples, in the manager. Why? Many of us have certainly experienced not feeling understood many times. From my perspective, this has less to do with consideration and much more to do with appreciation of my counterpart. The inquiry as well as recognition of his experiences and imprint as well as my interest in my colleagues. 

Through self-reflection and acceptance, perhaps even mutual understanding, we develop an important foundation for success. Success for oneself, in the team, in the company and finally for the customers, because we can integrate it into the daily work, lift potentials with it plus consider new solution options. Changes in perspective thus offer numerous advantages.

Finally, a small practical thought experiment. Just imagine that you have never seen or heard of an elephant. Someone blindfolds you so that you are completely dependent on all your other senses. You approach the unknown and can only feel it at first. Now you grab for something on this unknown object. Perhaps it is one of the tusks, but you cannot know this. What image arises in your mind when you have only this starting point? You can only describe what you feel. At the same time, an assumption arises, you match it with your experiences. What could it be? "Ah, it feels like a pickaxe!" 

Our perspective on ourselves and the environment is shaped by our experiences, successes, failures, but also our caregivers from childhood. That and much more shapes how we perceive things. At some points it is even quite obviously more of a perception. This realization helps especially executives in their daily leadership routine and is often actively brought about by the change of perspective in executive coaching. What we all have in common is that we are allowed to open our view. An elephant consists not only of tusks and to grasp it as a working tool is just a part of the complete picture. It is also worthwhile to include other points of view in the observation, because we ourselves benefit the most from this. How often do you ask your colleagues or even your manager in everyday life - how did you/do you perceive that?"

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