Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

Perspective – It Really Matters….

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

We know that growing a business is hard work, correct?

Long hours, low pay, taking risks that were unimaginable before we started, unfeeling lenders and employees who lack commitment – and I haven’t even mentioned difficult customers who take forever to pay!

But what if we had to deal with our homes being bombed – several times – and not by unhappy customers? Can you imagine?

Yet I read recently about a business owner to whom this actually happened. Oh – and she had to survive death threats and acid attacks.

There are some problems that most of us who live in North America simply don’t face. Can you imagine, as part of a SWOT analysis, doing an environmental scan and having the Taliban pop up? That would give a whole different meaning to Threats.

I spent some time – a long time ago – with the British services just outside Belfast during the “troubles” in Northern Ireland. One of the things that struck me as being “unreal”, to use our vocabulary of the time, was that businesses continued to run despite bombs, shootings and riots.

In Afghanistan, life and business go on (as they did all those years ago in Belfast). Entrepreneurs and business owners in Greece and Spain face different challenges but which are just as hard for me to imagine.

Talking about imagination, one of the techniques we use when developing strategies with clients is to get them to build a picture of their company in 3 or 5 years’ time. We ask them to do this in quite a lot of detail.

We use the exercise for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the power of visualization. Most business owners find it different or odd at first but succeed with very little prompting.

But can you conceive of being in a situation where you simply cannot imagine or visualize an end result?

That’s because you’ve encountered years – not days, not months, not quarters – but years of failure. And you’re only 10 years old? Yet the kids pulled it off and moved on with their lives – I think that’s truly amazing.

While I’m sitting writing this the first effects of Hurricane Sandy are appearing outside. While it may be a challenge, we know that by the weekend, at worst, it will be over. For most people it will (hopefully) only be a disruption lasting a few days.

Even Sandy pales, in my opinion, when compared to the story of the Afghani woman who launched the news agency in her own country and children who have to struggle for years with learning difficulties.

So, to those who are busy with their planning and budgeting for 2013 I would say this. Take a second, step back and reflect. For no matter how hard the challenges of growing a business in a slow or no growth economy, maybe other people are dealing with different (bigger?) challenges every day of their lives.

And if they can do it – so can we.

It’s all a matter of perspective………

If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy A Vision – Is It Worth Investing The Time?

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Strategy And Magic

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

One of my mantras is “strategic planning is based on assumptions”. It has to be because it’s about predicting what will happen in the future – and no one has been able to do that accurately yet.

To make assumptions you have to collect data and then think about it. This type of thinking is different from solving day-to-day problems. So we use various techniques to help participants in strategy sessions “think differently”.

But the other day a friend of mine made me realize that magic can also teach us some lessons about how we think and the biases that affect us all.

1. Differences in interpretation.

Different people interpret the same data in different ways. And who’s to say which way is “wrong”.

For example my magician friend, Dan Trommater (who is doing exciting things using magic for leadership training) does a trick in which a member of the audience signs their name on a $20 bill which he then makes disappear.

Later, they open a box that has been in full view the entire time and inside the box is a lime. When Dan cuts the lime open, the signed dollar bill is inside it. When Dan asks the audience for their theories about how he could have done it, he gets several different answers.

Everyone saw the same thing (or received the same data visually) – a signed $20 bill disappeared and then reappeared in the centre of a piece of fruit. But different people interpret the “data” in different ways – and arrive at different conclusions.

Again who’s to say which conclusion is right and which is wrong? (Dan says he’s used at least 10 different ways to get the bill into the lime.)

2. Differences in perception.

We also see data through the lens of our own perspective.

In another part of his act, Dan illustrates the power of perspective by bringing a volunteer on stage. He or she sees Dan cut pieces from a length of rope and then restore it “by magic”.

Meanwhile, out of the volunteer’s sight, Dan shows the rest of the audience how the “trick” works by showing concealed bits of rope which are cut in place of the long piece.

So the audience sees the “trick” while the volunteer experiences the “magic”. And they have different perceptions of reality because of what they see.

3. How do you deal with these differences?

These are examples of only 2 of the many factors that allow 2 people to take the same piece of information or data and perceive it or interpret it in different ways.

We have to accept that they exist and that their effects can’t be prevented.

So, when business owners ask teams of their people to think about important matters – e.g. when they’re involved in strategic planning or annual business planning – here are a couple of “must do’s”.
• Get the very best data available with which to fuel their thinking.
• Suspend judgement when someone says something that seems “out in left field”.
• Take the time to understand how they came to their conclusion.
• Challenge your own interpretations, perceptions and other biases.

By the way, if you have the opportunity to see Dan perform, watch the rope trick carefully because there’s a sting in the tail.

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