When people tell you they want to take their organisation to ‘the next level’ I can’t help but admire them, especially when you hear all the issues that need to be overcome in order to even start to get there. Then again, it’s easy for me, I’m not involved with the day to day hurly burly of their organisational life. I can take a different perspective; see beyond this and start to look for possibilities. The hard bit is when I ask others to see what I see, when I ask them to share a look from a different perspective.
‘I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions – the curtain was up.’ Groucho Marx.
The insights you get are very powerful. I once asked a Managing Director to stand with me in their car park. He reluctantly chunterred his way down five floors and we stood awhile at the far end of the car park looking at up his building. ‘I’ve seen this a thousand times, Dave’, was his initial comment. ‘But have you seen it from the perspective of anyone other than yourself. Let’s imagine you’ve come here for the very first time. ‘You’ve a million pound contract in your pocket what do you see?’ I asked.
We saw the named parking spaces by the front door. The litter, the peeling paint, and the chipped plaster as we went up the stairs. At key points I asked him to stop and tell me what he saw. A plain, magnolia wall, the ‘do not’ notices in the washrooms, staff notice boards and kitchen, and his employees making furtive calls on their mobiles in the stairwells. Even the dead or dying plants.
‘I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make the exception.’ Groucho Marx
We finished the tour. At which point the MD commented that any guest would come to reception and be guided up to the Board room they would have a well manicured journey to the dotted line. Yes, there were things that could be done but …’
‘Don’t look now, but there’s one too many in this room and I think it’s you.’ Groucho Marx
Then he got it. What if you looked at your business from the perspective of a new employee, a supplier, your community, an inspector or your cleaner. How would that help you take your organisation to the next level.
‘Now there’s a man with an open mind-you can feel the breeze from here.’ Groucho Marx
Humour comes from seeing everyday events from a different perspective.
By the way… my favourite Groucho Marx gag: ‘Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.’