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Trading Places: A Smart Way to Change Your Mind

I’ve been doing work/reading about “systems thinking”. A key element in creating and sustaining strong systems is the need to recognize and embrace diverse thinking i.e. different perspectives. The attached article describes an interesting activity undertaken by two CEO’s to experience the power of “different perspectives” first hand.

By considering information and opportunities from different angles, we force ourselves to think differently, leading to the potential for new and varied actions. When we shift from our known and understood paradigm, we begin to observe and interact with issues, people and solutions in an altered way. The diversity provided by different perspectives, challenges us to be more creative and innovative. When working in complex systems, the need to consider different perspectives is essential throughout the planning, implementation and evaluation of any process.

So how do you ensure diversity of ideas and perspectives? Consider the following:
– Ask yourself who impacts or is impacted by the issue being discussed – be sure they are part of your dialogue

– Put yourself in someone else’s shoes – experience their world if you can (as the CEO’s did) and at least ask questions from their perspective i.e. What would my client think? What would a key stakeholder do? If I was my partner, what would I want? What strategies do others who do this work use?

– Consider personal “styles” and “competencies” – do you have a diverse representation of these on your team? i.e. Do you have a “big picture” thinker, or is everyone focused on the details?

– Do you engage in dialogue where disagreement occurs? If there is no diversity, disagreement may be minimal. Remember, disagreement is OK – how it’s managed is what makes it a positive or a negative experience

As we engage diversity and consider the insights gained from various perspectives, we challenge and clarify assumptions, see impossibilities as possibilities, recognize varying needs, and potentially, discover opportunities previously hidden.

Enjoy the view!