Switching Perspective is Crucial for Innovation

Inspired by the artwork of Swiss artist Markus Raetz, I’ve created a 3D printed version of a Yes-No artwork. If you look from one perspective, you see the word ‘No’ but if you switch your position, you see the word ‘Yes’. The artwork hasn’t changed, you have altered your viewpoint. You can watch the video below.

This seemingly simple artwork is an essential ingredient of having a change mindset. It allows you to switch from a ‘negative’ perspective that you don’t like anymore to a more ‘positive’ perspective.

If you can practice the skill of switching perspectives, you could turn any problem into an opportunity.

Imagine that you have one client who is always complaining. He calls you every week to tell you what is wrong with your service. Everybody in the office already knows about him, they recognise his phone number and try to avoid being the one that picks up the phone. Most colleagues consider this person a problem-client. If you are able to look from a different perspective to this situation, you could also see a person that contacts you weekly to give you feedback on how to improve your service. It’s somebody who takes the effort to pick up the phone and spend time to explain why certain elements could be better if applied in a different way.

Chances are that a lot of the ‘issues’ that come up may be irrelevant for you, or difficult to solve but it is also possible that once in a while, that person comes up with a great idea to improve your service. It might help you to create more happy clients. The danger is -if we have given that person the perspectives of ‘NO’ or ‘Problem’, we don’t see or hear the potential of certain remarks anymore. Everything that person says immediately goes into the imaginary ‘rubbish bin’. As a result, you might miss out on some great opportunities.

The fact that we can switch perspectives (you have just proven that you are capable of it because you could see a ‘No’ and a ‘Yes’ in the artwork mentioned before) means that reality is not always what it seems to be. Reality plays tricks on our creativity by only allowing us to see what there is.

If we take this one step further, we can only see what we think is there.

So, we get ‘used’ to our own perspective of reality. Studies have already proven that perception consists of information gathered from outside for only 20%. Consequently, 80% is produced in the brain itself. All our senses pick up information from the outside world and transform that into an image inside our heads. For that reason, our society (politics, advertising, …) puts a lot of — sometimes unintended — effort into influencing our reality. The patterns that we are seeing are not coming from the outside but are rooted in our own perceptions.

Rodolfo Llinas, a professor of neurology at the medical faculty of New York University goes even a step further and claims that the outside world is just a projection created by our brains.

A motion picture that explores the endless possibilities of this is Inception by Christopher Nolan. In the movie, layer upon layer of brain projections is created in order to effectively alter someone’s reality.

The thinking patterns that influence our perception are the reason why switching to a new perspective is hard to do. It took hundreds of years before humanity accepted to switch the perspective from a flat to round earth.

If you want to change, you need to be able to do that effectively otherwise you will always be thinking that the status quo (or old ways of thinking) are preferable. If you still believe that your old phone is better than a smartphone, then chances are you’re still using your old phone. If you believe that command and control is the best way to manage your employees, you will never make the switch to self-steering teams, because it doesn’t fit in your perspective, which is your reality.

If you believe that self-driving cars; artificial intelligence and 3D printing are dangerous inventions, then you won’t experiment or use these new technologies until the moment arrives when your perspective switches — the reason for the change of perspective can have all kinds of circumstances.

All the above examples prove that it is truly possible to change your own perspective and look from a different angle at a situation.

This means that you can make a decision to at least try and explore new pathways to solve a certain challenge.

Enjoy switching your perspective.