The Link Between Perspective and Creativity

The Link Between Perspective and Creativity

The Link Between Perspective and Creativity



Have you ever sat down on the floor to play with a child? Did you notice how different the world looks from their perspective? Did you notice how tall and imposing an adult who is standing can look? Did you see underneath a chair or bed that you couldn’t easily see when standing up?

Have you ever looked at a stage in a theater from the balcony? Do you wonder what it looks and feels like to the actors on the stage? What about what the stage crew is thinking and seeing?

We often tend to act and react from our own perspective – how we see the world and consequently see a situation from a narrow, tunnel vision perspective. However, what if we took the time to consider multiple perspectives?

What if you are trying to influence a decision at work or sell something to a customer? One way to consider the situation more broadly is to stand in someone else’s shoes. What does your manager think about the situation? Maybe their concern is about meeting sales quotas. What does your customer think? Their concern might be solving a problem they have or how much the solution will cost. What is the supply chain manager’s concern? It might be about getting the materials needed to meet the demand.

Judith Glaser who created the concept of Conversational Intelligence® expressed the idea of seeing someone else’s perspective using the word “Understand.” She defined understanding as standing under someone else’s reality.

In our rush to execute on work and initiatives, it can feel easier to focus on one point of view. In the process, we may lose out on understanding others, sharing new ideas and finding creative solutions.

So how can we see a situation, problem, challenge, goal, or interaction from multiple perspectives? Below are some ways to generate more perspectives using creative thinking.

In an article by Susie Nelson titled “Wish You Were More Creative? Just Pretend” she discusses how authors and educational psychologists Denis Dumas and Kevin Dunbar suggest that creativity is a “malleable product of context and perspective.”

In one experiment, the psychologists divided students into three groups and asked one group to think of themselves as “eccentric poets,” another group as “rigid librarians” and the third group was the control group.

The groups were given ten ordinary objects and asked to list as many different uses as possible for each object. The group that was the most creative was those thinking like “eccentric poets.” By breaking the boundaries of their traditional thinking patterns as well as molding how they looked at a situation, the process generated new, ingenious ideas.

In the book, Decisive: How To Make Better Choices in Life and Work, by Chip and Dan Heath, the authors discuss several ways to look at a situation from different perspectives. One suggestion is “laddering up.” At the lower rungs of the ladder, you look inside your organization for a group that has solved a problem similar to yours thereby getting a new perspective.

If you don’t find something locally, you move up a few rungs of the ladder and look outside of your organization at competitors or best practices that might solve the problem by trying out more perspectives.

And finally, you might move a few more rungs up the ladder to look at other industries or bodies of knowledge to see if they have solved a problem with some aspect that is similar to your situation to see how their perspective might inform your problem.

Leaders who want to Crack the Code to Leadership Beyond the Ordinary develop the skill of looking at situations from multiple perspectives. As Frans Johansson has said, “The best ideas emerge when very different perspectives meet.” Have some fun and look at a challenge from different perspectives and see what you discover.

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Welcome to the Listening to the Leader in You Blog

Super-leaders arm themselves with insight. This blog is where you’ll find concepts, ideas, resources and more for honing your full set of leadership capabilities. 
Lynn Schaber, MCC
For the past 20 years, I’ve been privileged to partner with individuals intent on cracking the code to leadership beyond the ordinary.