If you think that something cannot be changed, then this is true. However, if you think that change is possible, then this is also true. Perspective is a powerful force that can shift your view of the world. Often, people are defeated before they even start something. They consider the challenge and think that it is impossible. While they may make appearances that they are trying, they already know in their hearts that success is not achievable. All is lost.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. (Albert Einstein)
But what exactly is perspective? What does it mean? And, how can we manage it on a personal level to earn greater success in life?
The concept of perspective is rooted in scientific investigation.
It is an approach or a perspective (i.e., view) that involves certain assumptions (i.e., beliefs) about human behavior: the way they function, which aspects of them are worthy of study and what research methods are appropriate for undertaking this study. There may be several different theories within an approach, but they all share these common assumptions.
You may wonder why there are so many different psychology perspectives and whether one approach is correct and others wrong. Most psychologists would agree that no one perspective is correct, although in the past, in the early days of psychology, the behaviorist would have said their perspective was the only truly scientific one.
Often success or failure in business is all about perspective. Short-term failures can be hidden long-term successes, while quick wins can sometimes lead to future losses.
For example, one of my private clients saw a dip in profit last month. In fact, they lost money for the first time all year. Sales volume was way up, and the cost per sale was about the same as it’s been all year. However, revenue per sale was about $50 lower than the historical average due to a reduced price test they were running.
So clearly the price test was a failure, right?
Well, not exactly. I did say sales volume was way up, so that means more opportunity for up-sells and cross-sells, which will lead to a higher lifetime value. More sales also mean more referrals from satisfied customers, which will lead to an even lower average cost per sale.
We’ll have to wait another 2 – 4 months before we can accurately determine if the test was a success or failure because we need future sales and referral data. But it’s very possible that over the course of a year this company could boost their profits 20 percent by lowering the price of their initial sale.
But they would never have realized this opportunity if they focused on the short term loss and dwelled on the one bad month. They needed to take a step back to see how this change could impact the business over the long term.
As a photography hobbyist, I often use the analogy of the many lenses in my kit to describe perspective. You have wide angle optics, normal lenses, and telephoto lenses. All of these lens categories provide a different and unique perspective of the same objective being captured.
Here are a few photos of the same object, the moon, taken with the same camera, from the same spot this morning. All that changed is the lens focal length through which I snapped the photos. These lenses provided different views of the moon. With each change of focal length, the perspective changed dramatically. The level of detail and the ability to see more interesting attributes of the moon changed too, so our comprehension and understanding of what we are looking at changes too. The same is true in business perspectives. It is all how you look at something. Your understanding changes with the perspective.
In business, we often use data to consider a question of perspective. Sometimes it is called, Big Data, due to the volume, variety, and velocity of the data. The more data, the more granular the perspective to consider the subject. Just like in photography, it is the lenses that we look through that alters our perspective.
Of course, while the point of view is essential, the big picture, like Big Data, is more than just the lens. You must ask the right questions of the data. The hypothesis or the question that you ask of the data is critical to the outcome. And, not all hypothesis are proven to be correct. So, it is vital to not only ask a good question of the data, but to swizzle the data and look at it with several different hypothesis until one of them proves to be truer than the others. There are gradients of truth, so it is not always a situation of black versus white, there can be many shades of grey in between the black and white extremes. Each variant provides a unique perspective for you to ponder.
Perspective gives us the ability to accurately contrast the large with the small, and the important with the less important. Without it we are lost in a world where all ideas, news, and information look the same. We cannot differentiate, we cannot prioritize, and we cannot make good choices.
A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new! (Albert Einstein)
Steve Jobs of Apple Computers fame is often cited as someone who held a unique perspectives on business, applications, design, and the human experience, to name a few. He said, “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have”.
Steve Jobs looked at all problems with the human experience as the first principle of design. It was fundamental to his products and services that a human centric model be at the focus of his creations. His success speaks to the value of his perspective. Is it the only perspective? Absolutely no.
There are many perspectives and many ways to transpose the data to unearth new and different approaches. Your perspective holds just as much merit as Steve Jobs’ point of view. But, more tools are needed beyond perspective. Some of the other tools are passion, drive, focus, persistence, determination, attitude, work ethic, and empathy. So, success is formed from perspective and driven by a myriad of attributes coalescing in harmony at just the right time and place.
Just remember, there was a day when the idea of visiting the moon was deemed to be a ludicrous idea. Absolutely impossible. Beyond the wildest imaginations.
Then, President Kennedy said audaciously, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
It is all a matter of perspective. Anything is possible if you look at it all through the right lens…
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless and digital communications technologies.
He is a business and technology consultant. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now Ontario Tech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has diplomas and certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology.