Is the most valuable perspective the one you don’t have?
How organizations choose to interpret and respond to new perspectives can make the difference between surviving and thriving, destruction and existence.
What is “perspective”?
It’s a way of seeing — an angle, an insight, a point of view. And for organizations, there is great comfort and reassurance in a reliable, trusted perspective — whether it’s from the CFO, CEO or any other member of the C-suite.
The progress of an organization’s activities charted by familiar eyes can offer a reassuring continuity to leadership and a validation that its direction is broadly the right one.
But as everyone in business today knows, this isn’t how things are.
Disruption assails organizations from every side; those that haven’t experienced this yet are the lucky ones. Or perhaps they’re actually the unlucky ones: following the maxim of “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” disruption, fierce competition and business-critical challenges of all kinds can be an opportunity to rethink, reconfigure, reassess, refine and review.
Threats to business, in short, present a new perspective.
Value in ways of seeing
If we accept that threat can be an opportunity to see things differently, is there a way to harness the potential benefits of being threatened, but without the prospect of harm coming from uncontrollable external forces? And how can any organization be sure there is value in this perspective?
Seeing, trying, experimenting — these are essential ingredients to progress. And the eventual result of any business endeavor is unguessable: could Guglielmo Marconi ever have foreseen that an experimental radio broadcast would pave the way for a global network of communications infrastructure within just a few decades? Could Royal Air Force engineer Frank Whittle have anticipated in 1930 that his turbojet engine would soon transport millions of passengers around the world every day?
Just what do you see?
There is potentially huge value in looking at the things that you already know in a different way.
Think about the microscope: the ability to look much more closely at a familiar object has yielded enormous discoveries and progress. For example, the discovery of microorganisms, red blood cells and other microscopic objects, revealed after the first microscope was made in the late 17th century, has transformed medicine, chemistry and other fields, saving and improving millions of lives the world over, and creating other entirely new inventions and industries.
The implications of perspective
However, some perspectives can be hard to accept.
With his seminal telescope, Galileo viewed distant planets and moons in more detail than anyone before him. His perspective and observations of planetary movements informed the development of heliocentric theory — in which the earth and planets revolve around the sun, rather than the earth being at the center.
However, this astounding idea, arguably one of the most significant in history, was not well received by the Catholic church, and was quickly denounced as heretical. As a result, Galileo ended his life in prison.
Seek and you shall find
The conclusion from these examples is simple: perspective has to be invited and accepted.
If you don’t look, you’ll never know.
It’s impossible to anticipate the true value of an unexpected new perspective; but at EY, we believe there is unlimited value in accepting the potential of the perspective.
That’s why we help organizations all over the world to look at things in a different way — to see the unseen, to look again at the ignored and to explore the unlit and disconcerting areas.
With clarity of vision we help give organizations the courage — founded on the reliable foundations of fact-based decision-making — to make bold moves, both in their markets and internally within their operations.
We bring the perspective of the outsider, the challenger, with the familiarity and trust of the insider.
So, is the most valuable perspective the one you don’t have?