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Tag Archives: change viewpoint

When you shift your perspective, you acknowledge other viewpoints (which is a good thing)

A couple of weeks ago, this interesting photo popped up on my news feed with the intriguing question – Is this cat walking up or down the stairs? Before I give you the definitive answer at the end of this post, why don’t you hazard a guess?


Whatever your answer, right or wrong, know that people answer roughly 50-50 in both camps – half say up and half say down. The difference of course has to do with your perspective, and when you shift your perspective, the answer changes. In fact, I blogged about just this topic a few weeks ago in When you shift your perspective, you can change your reality in which I recounted the parable of six blind men and an elephant. Continue reading

When you shift your perspective, you can change your reality

Blind_men_and_elephantI was reminded recently of the importance of being able to shift your perspective as a leader, and a parable about six blind men and an elephant that I first heard when I was a child came to mind. This parable actually has its roots in several religions of the Indian subcontinent, but the version I remember was from when I studied Jainism. The story narrates how six blind men were asked by the king to describe an elephant. Since none of the men had ever seen an elephant, in order to respond to the king’s question they had to walk up to the animal and touch it. The first man happened upon the elephant’s leg; so he described the elephant as a pillar. The second felt the tail; he pronounced it to be like a rope. The third walked up to the trunk, and said that the elephant was like a tree branch. The one who felt the ear said the elephant was like a hand fan; the one who felt the elephant’s belly said it was like a wall. And finally, the blind man who reached out and touched the elephant’s tusk, described it as a solid pipe. Upon hearing six different answers, the blind men were puzzled and turned to the king for an explanation. Continue reading

You can’t read the label from inside the bottle – to solve problems, change your perspective

Have you ever found yourself so close to an issue or problem that you lost sight of your overall goal or perspective? I suspect your answer is “yes” because almost everyone has, at one time or another, allowed the details or minutiae of a situation to cloud good judgment and thus jeopardize the ultimate outcome. No matter what your profession is or what industry you work in, you’ve probably found yourself in one or more of these situations –

  • Getting so caught up in editing a document or speech that you stop thinking about your core message
  • Allowing a co-worker’s irritating habit to get under your skin , so much so that you can no longer focus on the crucial job you need to do together
  • Thinking repeatedly about all the reasons a course of action will fail and so you overlook the significant likelihood that you will be successful
  • Dealing with the day-to-day crises takes up so much of your time that you have no energy to think purposefully for the long-term.
  • Rolling up your sleeves to solve a problem (because you know you can) instead of delegating the task to another member of your team, because you fail to remember that your skills are better utilized at a more strategic level

If any of these situations strike a chord, then here’s something to consider: you can’t read the label from inside the bottle. Need I say more?

What are you doing to force yourself to step outside the bottle so that you CAN read the label? What gets in the way? Share your perspectives by adding a Comment below.

Competitiveness is a barrier to creativity and innovation

In his now-classic 1945 candle experiment, psychologist Karl Duncker posed the following problem – how to affix a lit candle to a cork board using only a box of thumbtacks and a book of matches. Some tried to attach the candle directly to the wall using the tacks; others attempted to glue it to the cork board using melted candle wax; but neither approach yielded results. Very few of the participants thought to empty the box of thumbtacks, use the tacks to pin the box (with the candle in it) to the cork board, and then light the candle with the match. The cognitive bias that limits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used is called functional fixedness, and is a known barrier to creativity.

Even more interesting than Duncker’s original 1945 experiment was the follow-up research conducted by Sam Glucksberg in 1962. Continue reading

Could your weakness be your competitive advantage?

Why is it that doctors always seem to keep you waiting? No don’t answer, it’s a rhetorical question. But I think many of you will agree that this is a common frustration about visiting the doctor – he or she is “running late”. I was waiting at my doctor’s office a few days ago and I noticed a new sign just behind the receptionist’s desk:

I was impressed with their approach. Clearly, “running late” is a common occurrence in this office, but the staff here have found a way to turn this negative feature into something positive. It reminded me of something I read several years ago called “Feature the Flaw”. Blogger Scott Anthony explained how the eco-tourism hotel industry has turned a set of flaws — basic rooms with no air conditioning, no TV and no room service, but a plentiful supply of mosquitoes — into features that can command price premiums. They positioned something negative as a benefit. Clearly this doctor’s office has taken a similar tactic.

So what can you do to apply this principle in your workplace? You no doubt have flaws in your products and services; is there a way to position these flaws differently so that your stakeholders will see them as positive features? If your clients or employees tell you that there is a potential failing in one of your ideas, can you spin the problem around by looking for an external client or internal customer who would consider that very failing a feature? By changing your point of view (and helping others see it), you could very well turn a weakness into a competitive advantage.

Do you have any examples of how companies have turned flaws into features?  Do share!