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The Power of Alternative Perspectives

by Hank Barnes  |  December 4, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

Sometimes all you need is a  fresh perspective.  I regularly hear  from clients that a big source of value in their interactions with Gartner is hearing a different point of view.  Often, these discussions reveal insights that were basically “hiding in plain sight.”

In some ways, this is counter to traditional communication models.   I often cite the work of Don Schultz, who was one of the pioneers of integrated marketing communications (Hat tip to my sister, Beth,  who did her doctoral work with Don many years ago).  Don described a communications model as shown in the picture:


Source: Adapted from the work of Don Schultz, on Integrated Marketing Communications

The core idea of this is that the ability to successfully convey a message is largely driven by the overlaps in fields of experience.   If we take for granted that someone has the same perspective and they don’t, then we run the risk of communicating in a way that they simply won’t get.

But as we are developing our communications plans and strategies (or other plans and strategies), there is real power in gaining insights from others with different backgrounds and different fields of experience.    Without that, it is really easy to get caught in your own world with your own conscious and subconscious biases.   And, if you work with others whose fields of experience largely overlap with yours, it is even more likely.

On the other hand, in the quest for agility, it’s easy to say “we can’t afford to look at things in  different ways.”

The reality is that you can’t afford not to.

Bias and ineffective decision practices can really hamper effectiveness (for more on this, check out the Cloverpop blog.  They are an interesting company that is focused on helping companies improve their practices around decision making.  They share a lot of research that helps explain why they do what they do.  They are worth a look for companies looking to improve the way they approach decision making).

And yet, it’s easy to ignore.   For example, the recognition of the value of diversity continues to grow–but can we quantify the impact?  And do we integrate it into our processes?    Maybe we make a focused effort to hire more women, or more minorities, or more experienced (older) people, or veterans–but what next? Embracing diversity is a mindset.   But do you take the next step and integrate diversity into your practices (for example, making sure that review, brainstorming, and team efforts always include diverse participants?   Do you look at how your technology (or if you even have technology) that helps make this easier to do–and to prove the value of?  Do you ever invite people from other departments to product meetings?

In this year’s Symposium keynote, we talked about the formula for dealing with a constantly changing world (We called in ContinuousNext) and becoming more dynamic.   The core of that was shaping new mindsets (growth mindsets), shifting practices to remove friction, and sharing  best practices and successes by leveraging aligned technology  that can as a force multiplier–scaling the benefits across the organization

In essence, this is all about embracing perspectives that improve decisions and confidence.    I encourage you to look for fresh perspectives, formed from different points of view, as often as possible.   I’m confident it will improve the quality and effectiveness of what you do.

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: collaboration  decision-making  diversity  teams  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

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