Changing Your View

By: Nan S. Russell


Last time I was hiking in Montana's Glacier National Park, I stopped to view through binoculars, a mountain goat trekking atop a rock cliff. My husband, viewing the switch-back trail we'd just climbed, happened to see a grizzly bear cross behind a group of hikers a hundred yards below us. With my narrowed focus, I never saw the bear. Our different views yielded different impressions.

It's like that at work, too. We survey our landscape using departmental binoculars, seeing through lenses of a work group, a site, a division, a subsidiary, or a corporation. We may see the goat and miss the bear, or vice versa. We make decisions, offer solutions, create ideas and do our work based on an understanding of what we've gleaned from a partial view.

So if you're in software development or human resources, customer service or accounting, sales or creative services, manufacturing or marketing, legal or public relations, or any number of departments, professions, industries or businesses, you'll tend to see your work-world from that role perspective, making interpretations accordingly.

But if you want to be winning at working, you need to get beyond a narrow orientation. Doing that requires a different mind-set. One that understands that actions taken by one individual or department impact other individuals or departments; actions taken in one business or industry impact other businesses or industries; and actions taken in one country, impact other countries.

Changing your view has nothing to do with larger numbers of people or the size of a department or business enterprise. It has nothing to do with where you are in the hierarchy either. People with myopic self-interests can be found at every level of an organization. It's not the position that helps us see differently, it's the "eyes" we develop.

Let's say, you implement a simple change, going from paper to electronic invoices. That decision impacts the printer of the paper invoices, the shipper of the forms, the IT department needed to build new systems, suppliers who must adapt to your way of doing business, employees who must be trained on the electronic system and ... you get the point. Knowing the impact doesn't mean you won't make the change. But it produces better decision making, enhanced communications and more positive results.

People who are winning at working think beyond their narrow roles, stepping back to gain a larger perspective. Mao Tse-tung puts it this way, "We think too small. Like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view."

If you want to be winning at working, you need to surface from your well and look out at the work-world you share. Changing your view, changes everything.

© 2005 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved. Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at www.winningatworking.com.

Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Visit www.nanrussell.com or contact Nan at nan@nanrussell.com.