#MBOY2019: Five quick ways to see other people's perspectives
These five ways of evaluating an idea will help you see ideas differently
CMI Management Book of the Year category winner Factfulness aims to introduce us to the decision-making concept of the same name. It defines ‘factfulness’ as the ‘stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts’ – and it could help managers find new solutions to problems.
The book challenges us to change our ‘single perspective instinct’. It says:
A big idea can unite people like nothing else and allow us to build the society of our dreams. Ideology has given us liberal democracy and public health insurance.
But ideologues can become just as fixated as experts and activists on their one idea or solution, with even more harmful outcomes.
Factfulness is recognising that a single perspective can limit your imagination, and remembering that it is better to look at problems from many angles to get a more accurate understanding and find practical solutions.
To control the single perspective instinct, get a toolbox, not a hammer:
How to see other people’s ideas
Test your ideas
Don’t only collect examples that show how excellent your favourite ideas are. Have people who disagree with you test your ideas and find their weaknesses.
Don’t claim expertise beyond your field: be humble about what you don’t know. Be aware too of the limits of the expertise of others.
Hammers and nails
If you are good with a tool, you may want to use it too often. If you have analysed a problem in depth, you can end up exaggerating the importance of that problem or of your solution. Remember that no one tool is good for everything. If your favourite idea is a hammer, look for colleagues with screwdrivers, wrenches, and tape measures. Be open to ideas from other fields.
Numbers, but not only numbers
The world cannot be understood without numbers, and it cannot be understood with numbers alone. Love numbers for what they tell you about real lives.
Beware of simple ideas and simple solutions
History is full of visionaries who used simple utopian visions to justify terrible actions. Welcome complexity. Combine ideas. Compromise. Solve problems on a case-by-case basis.