What does this scene look like from higher up?
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As entrepreneurs, we are always watching changes in our businesses and the marketplace, looking for an edge or insight to improve our performance. Through the day-to-day decisions and events that shape our experience, it is very easy to get caught up in the short-term details, and to fail to keep a wide-enough perspective to do our best. I recommend a set of mental exercises that help you to do a quick perspective shift as a regular part of your routine. Think of it as ‘mental calisthenics’ – and a necessary part of your week.
A Flight Overhead
The first exercise is to visualize yourself and your business from above – physically visualizing your surroundings as if lifting up in the air overhead. Expand your perspective up, up, wider, bigger, macro. Look at your business from the 50,000 foot view and see how it looks. Think in terms of world, national, state, county, city, down to local variables. Try to skew forward and backward in time while you are at it. If you are absorbed in the day-to-day issues of running the business, you may not be in the habit of doing this.
If we were talking about this perspective shift with regards to a sailing ship, it would be taking your perspective up and away from sea level and looking at it from airplane level. How is it different from up here? For one thing, you see less of your ship and more of the environment that it is in. What if you moved up to a satellite-eye view from space? Even more so, you switch from object (the boat) to context (the environment and its patterns). Chunking Up even more, we are looking at the effect of the moon on tides and how much light at night to sail by. Chunking Up even more it is looking at solar flares affecting your communications. Chunking Up further…what can we imagine?
Mental exercises like this can yield new and interesting perspectives that you will never have if you confine yourself your ‘normal’ ground-level perspective.
The geometric counterpoint to Chunking Up — ‘Chunking Down’ provides yet another set of real, relevant, and potentially useful insights.
To continue the sailboat analogy, Chunking Down would be looking at how barnacles clinging to your hull increase friction and drag, causing you to travel with slightly less velocity. Chunking Down might have you analyzing the speed at which the crew can execute a tack to starboard or how positioning of the cargo in the hold affects your ability to handle high waves. The chunking down methodology is critical for achieving operational excellence. From a business perspective, it is the process of deconstructing all of the details of how you touch your customers and optimizing all of the little pieces that matter – and judiciously leaving the pieces that don’t matter undisturbed.
These two quick perspective shifts are examples of an important entrepreneurial skill: The ability to see ourselves and our businesses from multiple perspectives. The tyranny of a single perspective can drag down a business and reduce your outcomes. For the cost of a few moments, and a measure of mental flexibility, new perspectives and insights are there for the taking, and a necessary part of your entrepreneurial routine.
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