ORG Blog

The Value of More Than One Point of View

I had a little epiphany during my annual spring drive to improve my golf game.  Understand that improving my current handicap should not be a great challenge, but I like to think that starting early will result in some seriously lower scores for those two or three rounds of golf I will actually get around to playing each year.  In any case I decided I should focus on putting – after all it’s the club I use most often in the course of a round, so…

I’m always suggesting to our clients that when they are having a recurring problem it helps to consider a few other points of view before beginning to formulate solutions.  So here’s what I did…

First I gathered a little data.  I began to notice that an unusually high percentage of my missed putts passed to the right of the cup.  Failing to follow my own advice, I immediately jumped to solution without bothering to seek any other perspective or best practice counsel.  I decided that I must either be swinging wrong or failing to grip the club with the face pointing at the intended target.  Wrong!

After wasting a couple of hours trying those solutions unsuccessfully, I noticed that the guys on the big money tour look at the putt from more than one angle before deciding how to address it.  They get at least two perspectives before making what could be an extremely high dollar decision.  Then they ask their caddy – a third perspective.  Only then do they putt the ball.

So I decided to try the multiple perspective approach and sure enough I found that when I walked past the cup and looked back at the putt, the alternative perspective gave me data I had missed by only looking at it one way.  But I still kept missing my putts to the right until one of my playing partners asked me a key question.

After watching me struggle, Jon remarked, “I notice you are doing a great job of carefully lining up the putt better than you have in the past but, at the last minute you take one more peek and then turn your clubface slightly open.  Why is that?”

The answer was simple physics and a last minute failure to value all of the perspectives.  When lining up the putt, I was getting multiple perspectives and using two eyes.  When standing over the ball, I would take my last glance and using one perspective and one eye make a less informed last minute correction.

Golf is a hard game, but compared to being a union or management leader in the current business climate, it’s a walk in the park.  Most leaders recognize that to make better decisions, they must be willing to get multiple perspectives.  However, when faced with economic pressures that threaten to erode decades of hard earned market share, it is very tempting to ignore alternative perspectives and “step up and make the hard decisions they are paying me for”.

In our practice we strongly encourage our union and management clients to regularly dialog about what’s important in their world.  Management retains their “rights” and the union leaders remain obligated to “represent”; but often when they have honest discussion about key issues, they come away from the conversation enlightened about why their past attempts to solve the problem were singularly unsuccessful.

Like me hovering over the putt at the last minute, both parties find it difficult at first to hold onto the perspectives other than their own while making their final decision.  But when they do, they are rewarded with something better than a low score – they find they have a partner who is also invested in a successful outcome.

So what’s your story?  Have you witnessed the dangers of ignoring alternative perspectives?

Robert Hughes

Partner - Overland Resource Group

Topics: Collaboration Conflict Resolution Labor Management