25 Aug Improve Employee Communications and Learning: Taking different perspectives
One of the assignments for my photography class (back in my Chicago days) was to take photos of an object or subject from different perspectives. Usually we are so accustomed to taking photos right at our eye level that our photos can be boring and we miss a lot of interesting details or perspectives.
Here’s one of my photos with a typical perspective:
Here’s another one with a different perspective:
By looking at an object or a situation from an angle that’s different from what we normally would, we can discover new colors, textures, or insights. In fact, a key to creative problem solving is to encourage people to take on different perspectives and consider the problem from multiple angles.
Maxine Clark, CEO of Build-A-Bear, and Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store (both are on this year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list) swapped places for a day to experience what it was like to work in each other’s store. The results were amazing. Tindell experienced the passion of Build-a-Bear employees and borrowed Build-A-Bear’s rhyming slogan such as Strive for Five to drive sales for his store. Similarly, Clark was impressed by the flow of communications among employees at the Container Store. She likes their spontaneous “plaudits via Post-it” where employees tell their coworkers that they’ve done a good job by writing it on a Post-it note and stick it to their locker.
You, too, can create opportunities for employees to trade places for a day, a few days, or a week so they can gain insights from their colleagues in a different department and bring fresh ideas to their own work. Doing so will also help improve communications between departments or divisions. As a result, employees will have a better understanding of what their colleagues do in another department and gain an appreciation of the process flow and how their work impact each other’s.
Does your organization have people practices that encourage employees from different departments to swap places for a short period of time?
- What did you gain from this process?
- What would you do differently?
Share your stories with us!