Last weekend, we took the kids for a mini-break weekend to Venice – more specifically to Burano, which is a little island close to Venice and absolutely worth a visit, or so they said.
It was hot, it was crowded, and the kids were cranky. Not their fault, they are 3 and 5...and this was not what they considered an enjoyable use of their time. One of those things that was a great idea on paper (in theory) but the execution was not properly thought through (reminds me of a lot of conversations with my coachees about the difference between having a great strategy and greatly executing a strategy).
In order to ease my pain and quiet down the kids, I handed them an iPhone each so they could „take pictures“. To be honest, the only reason I did it was to get a few minutes of whining-free time to be able to appreciate the magic scenery of the surroundings, the colors, and the impressions. It worked. For the next 15 minutes, both kids were happily clicking away on their phones, taking picture after picture and having a blast. They happily handed the phones back and peace was restored. Later in the evening, I took the phones to delete the play-pictures, scrolling through them one by one. And while doing so I had a revelation.
I cannot say if the pictures were beautiful – as a parent, I am uniquely biased as far as my kids are concerned, as I am biologically wired to find everything that they do, or let`s say most of it, absolutely wonderful. So it was not about the quality or beauty of their pictures, which is subjective, and I cannot judge. It was the fact that these pictures revealed to me, like a slideshow, my kid`s perspective of the visit. And the true revelation here was that, although they and I walked the exact same streets, along the exact same shops, for the exact same route and time, they had taken pictures of things I did not even notice. The pictures they had taken allowed me to see that small period of time through their eyes. And I was surprised about all the things they saw, they noticed, they liked so much they took a picture of – and I had not even noticed any of these things.
And that got me thinking.
In our lives, corporate or private, we do a lot of things together. Meetings. Projects. And while we might think that although we are in the project or meeting together we see and experience the same thing...it might be that the perspectives of all the other people present are totally different from our own. And we never even think about it or notice it. Because we do not take the time to say: „how do you see it“. We do not pause to take a few minutes and see the world, the sequence, the process, and the surroundings, truly through the other person´s eyes. It is simply not enough to just have people present and maybe ask them if they have something to add. You can only truly switch perspectives when you let others completely take the lead (or the phone), and let them take you on the journey of seeing the world through their eyes. And if you are the leader, or the CEO, or the project manager, you might see a world you did not even imagine (and things you did not even see). You might realize that what you think you know and see has little to nothing to do with what the people around you see and experience. And that might just be exactly what you need to put your business and strategy decisions back into perspectives, plural. To check if what is going on and what people see is really what it is supposed to be, or what you want it to be.
Maybe we should all stress-test our ideas and strategies through the eyes of the people involved (or the client?) – truly getting their perspective by seeing things through their eyes, walking a mile in their shoes. Maybe heads of operations should walk through the factory, heads of sales to have one mandatory client hotline day per month, and heads of HR try to go through the application process like a new hiree. Maybe, just maybe, we should all pause a little more to truly see other perspectives.