Recently, I delivered a networking address at the Information Governance Exchange where I discussed how innovation, growth, and success are all achieved by taking a look at the bigger picture and proceeding with a well-rounded goal in mind. Leading into the networking session, I asked folks to take a few minutes to reflect upon how they could make the most of their time at the conference. Since most attendees come to these conferences to learn and make connections, I encouraged them to spend the evening and the next few days being even more curious. I recommended that they ask deeper questions in order to change their perspective and gain a better understanding, as well as discover superior business results.
Below is an excerpt from my recent speech. I encourage you to read it over and hope that the next time you find yourself making a big business (or life) decision, you will be reminded to change your perspective in order to gain a better understanding.
Surface questions can get us helpful data points, but they can lead to short-sighted problem solving. Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Could you imagine if Mr. Ford has chosen to be a horse breeder instead? Changing your perspective to gain a better understanding means coming at the challenge, not with an analytical brain, but from a different perspective. Let me give you some examples of this in the business setting:
First, let’s talk about Apple. A successful company known for innovative products under Steve Jobs. One piece of innovation was their packaging. They could have let their packaging team look at competitive packaging, or design packaging that is functional. Instead, Steve Jobs and the executive team dedicated an entire room to unpacking Apple products so that employees involved with product packaging could change perspectives and feel what consumers felt when opening their new iProduct. This different perspective created a true innovation in the way the products are packaged.
However, we can’t all be Apple, so I will give you a more personal example. I was recently tasked with opening our NY office so that Lighthouse could be closer to many of our financial services and pharmaceutical clients, as well as their outside counsel. We needed to open quickly in order to continue delighting our clients. I could have created a list of tasks and started executing against those tasks, but after consulting with career mentors, I stepped back and spent at least two days shadowing each job function that would be present in that office. This allowed me to see the office needs from their perspective and make more mindful decisions so that we could open quickly and start servicing clients out of the office immediately upon opening.
Finally, let’s carry forward the example Joshua Wood brought up earlier, because it is something we hear with the IT and security business units we work with. Specifically, how to define their role within their company, as a service organization. We see many of these departments go out and ask the other business units what their needs are, and then build a plan around those needs. Often times those needs only get you part of the way there. For example, we often hear legal saying “I need more help around collections, or faster collections.” Often times what we uncover, however, is that legal needs a better understanding of the systems, how long it takes to get data from each system and why it takes that amount of time, or they just need to know there is a good defensible process around collections. When the IT organization takes the time to gain legal’s perspective, they are able to build a better service organization.
I encourage everyone to be curious, take advantage of future networking events, and gain an understanding of other functions so that when you’re problem solving you will have multiple perspectives. I encourage you not to be the horse breeder.
Are you taking a step back and getting a look at the big picture? If you have other techniques that help you strategize or would like to discuss this topic further, I would love to hear from you. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.