The perils of insider perspective

My sweetheart and I walk together most weekday mornings. It’s a few miles, takes us a little less than an hour, and pushes us to physical limits as we first descend, and then climb, some pretty tough hills. It starts us off right in so many ways, including the time to talk about what the day holds for each of us in our businesses.

Part of those walks is along a golf course near our house.

The peril of internal perspectiveAs you can see from this stern sign, the course managers do not want non-golfers on the cart paths. (Fortunately, we’re there well before the course opens!)

The other day, my sweetheart pointed out that all these signs (and there are many of them) are oriented in the direction a golfer would travel the course. As long as you progress in ascending hole order, from one to 18, you’ll see the signs.

Go the other way, however, and all you’ll see is the back of the signs; you’ll never see the instructions.

From the perspective of a golfer, this makes perfect sense. After all, they never go backwards around the course.

From the perspective of anyone else, it’s an obvious mistake.

This is something I see over and over again in my clients’ businesses: they can’t see what’s happening because they’re buried in what I call “insider perspective.” They know all too well – quite literally all too well – how things are “supposed” to be.

One isn’t “supposed” to go around a golf course in descending-hole order, so the signs don’t have to face that way.

Except this isn’t how things actually work.

Which is why the outsider, or external, perspective is so crucially important when you want to create change within your organization.

Because only the outsider, with their holistic external perspective, can see what’s really going on.

gljudson Management & Leadership