Perspective, where you stand, determines much of your perception, how you see the world. Asking yourself the question, is it me or is it we, when taking information on board, considering alternatives, making decisions, evaluating an implementation keeps you and your team grounded.
Perspective and perception change constantly in modern business. Competitors become collaborators, enemies friends and partners fall out all with just a slight change in perception or perspective.
When I was just starting out as a manager, I had a boss named Bob Spurgeon. He was one of those unique bosses who knew a lot and had a lot of fun teaching junior managers by building their experience and that meant letting them fail a little so the learning stuck.
One of the ways that Bob taught perspective was to constantly remind you of your perspective. I can remember coming into his office and saying;
“Bob, we have a problem…”
“Who is we?” would be his reply. “Do you have a mouse in your pocket?”
“No” would by my response.
Bob used that exchange to remind you that perspective matters and that a problem is first your own before it belongs to someone else.
There is always ME before there is WE.
Changing perspective starts with understanding our personal perspective – the ME. You cannot help it, personal perspective dominates the way we think even when we believe that we are looking at the whole picture and have everyone in mind.
- What is it that this issue means to you?
- Why have you taken it on?
- What does success mean?
Understanding the personal enables you to flip your perspective – changing ME to WE as shown in the graphic below:
Notice how you can create the WE, you know what it looks like, but the letter W is not as smooth when its depicted as an upside down M. The graphic is to remind you that a group – a WE – is not just a collection of ME’s. Rather it takes on own characteristics and dynamics.
Make that transition by asking yourself the following questions, before you try to turn a ME into a WE.
- Who are we?
- What is winning vs. what is value creation?
- Who is the competition?
- Who are we collaborating with?
Finding the answers to these questions is critical, particularly as you are making, taking and implementing big decisions like setting a strategy, starting a transformation project, launching a new product.
Knowing where you stand (perspective) helps determine what you see (perception) and what you are able to do (performance).
It starts with recognizing that it all begins with an individual, with you, with ME.
And that until you change your perspective, the only WE that exists is you …
… and the mouse in your pocket.