Understanding the possibility of tools not being purely skills based, but also perspective based, can alter problem solving methods. A workforce that strives to be inclusive of different perspectives is one that is determined to diversify its toolkit. Businesses that choose to ignore diversity close themselves off from being challenged and in turn suffer as they no longer have a versatile expertise base. John Hale spoke on ‘Worlds Colliding’ which is when people have their world view challenged. From this testing, growth can occur. Those who choose to challenge themselves and endeavour to gain new experiences grow their skillset in problem solving. John expertly sewed together the capability of organisations when they recognise the experiences of their employees. He details the Clara Graves Spiral Model as a way to understand differences of values that employees can present and how he seeks to push individuals to expand their world view so that they can better themselves and the world they exist in.
John explained that it’s one thing to understand that there’s an elephant in the room, but it’s often a whole other task to understand what this may imply. Interestingly, this can easily be paralleled to the old story of the blind men and the elephant, the men attempt to understand what’s in front of them by each feeling a different part of the elephant. Unsurprisingly they each came to a different conclusion and failed to grasp the full situation at hand. Perspective gives one opinion but experience with an open mind can lead to the full picture, if one only asks for another experience. Applying this attitude to problem solving in your organisation can lead to holistic solution.
A diversity of opinions helps you see the full spectrum of ideas. A smart leader will value their people and recognise that diversity in opinions can help solve any issue.
In his talk, John Hale draws heavily on the Clare Graves Model of the 8 modes of ‘Spiral Dynamics’ as a way to interpret world views. They are as follows:
When people from different levels of thinking come into contact with each other there are often friction points due to a difference of opinion. Those who exist on different levels of this model have their perspectives rooted in different values and this mismatch of principles can lead to conflict. However, it can also lead to a team understanding an issue from a different perspective and serve to push their strategy in a different direction that is more inclusive.
Whenever we progress from one point to another on the scale of perspective, we tend to face a challenging moment where our experiences and conception of the world is tested. John explains this as a spiralling mode, where we either decide to radically change our world view and evolve or decide to be held back with restrictive thinking that tends to be comfortable for many.
He tactfully draws an example of this through recognising the plight of Jarvis Masters, a Californian man who has been on death row in San Quentin for the last 37 years. Jarvis had had a hard life, growing up on the wrong side of town and falling in with gangs eventually landed him in prison. However, he had a radical change of heart after studying the religion of Buddhism which led him to stop an inmate who was about to hurl a rock at a seagull. Reaching out his arm to stop him, he exclaimed “that bird has my wings” and in that moment, the context of this action changed the outcome. Jarvis had taken the time to broaden his perspective and this impacted on his greater community.
John then draws this together, relating it back to the Clare Graces Model and explains how Jarvis defused the situation as he approached it from a different angle. This same logic of having diverse world views can be applied to any organisation when approaching difficult tasks, don’t just look at it from what you know – think outside the box and use your people. There is creativity in diversity that shows the opportunity of radical change, but most importantly, there is strength in diversity as “none of us are as smart as all of us” (Ken Blanchard).
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