Perspective: Don’t Forget It

Data bombards managers. Still, they must filter and interpret the information to make calculated decisions. Before tackling the big questions, these managers should first consider their own perspective.

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Several blind men were arguing about what an elephant looks like. Because they had each heard stories about how elephants could knock down forests, carry heavy loads, and travel great distances, they could not agree on a common description. So, they decided to ask a wise sage what an elephant looked like.

The sage led the four blind men to a large magnificent elephant and told them to find out what the elephant “looked” like.

The first blind man touched the elephant’s leg and reported that it was a column. The second blind man touched the elephant’s stomach and said that it was like a wall. The third blind man touched the elephant’s ear and said that it was a piece of cloth. And the fourth blind man grabbed the elephant’s tail and described the animal as a length of rope.

Again, the blind men began to argue over the “appearance” of the elephant.

The sage interrupted the squabble to ask, “How can each of you be so certain you are right?”

The blind men considered the question but none would answer. Finally, the sage said, “The elephant is a large animal and each of you only touched one small part. Perhaps if you put the parts together, you will see the truth.”

Wise managers will relinquish rigid viewpoints and approach each decision with an open mind. By abandoning isolated perspectives and entrenched patterns, they can approach every new challenge with fresh insights and a clear point of view.

Enlightened managers recognize that everyone approaches problems from a unique perspective and considers this during discussions and negotiations.

By not seeing themselves as separate entities, but as part of an integrated team, managers can expand their focus to all the knowledge available to them. This cultivates greater contributions to their organization and builds a foundation for potential partnerships.