We all see things through our own eyes, thus our personal filters influence outcomes by eliminating other possibilities or making them harder to see. However, in our busy management lives we tend to forget that we are applying our filters to everything we see, hear, and encounter. As time-bound professionals we are clearing projects, solving problems, or otherwise being what we have identified as productive. But, what if the work we are doing is not productive? What if our filters are making us work more than needed? Worse, what if our filters are making us work against ourselves? Knowing that our vision is filtered is the first step towards unfiltered vision and discovering new insights.
Whether through organization culture or external experiences, many of us are programmed to defend our position rather than consider the positions of others. Perhaps this is just a carryover from elementary school where being wrong was not always an opportunity to learn, often it was just wrong. Or perhaps this is a carryover from too many TV game shows where being wrong means you go home while others stay. There are likely many causes of our defend-first thinking and habits. However, the causes are not relevant. Our awareness is relevant because the first step in solving any problem is to admit the problem exists.
With a problem or possible problem admission we can begin to ask if our responses are reasoned or automatic. That is, we can begin to filter our filters in order to first understand rather that always working to be understood (Thank you Dr. Covey). Moreover, by turning off our filters we enable the most powerful tool in our management and leadership toolboxes, a thoughtful question.
Enabling questions can create a sense of journey, an adventure to find the right answer to this question at this time for this circumstance. Questions also invite many people to participate in the journey by demonstrating that confirmation biases are not accepted and that original thinking is required. A simplified gamification (applying the 5W and 1H) for problem solving can produce unknown or unthought-of outcomes by simply allowing the journey to happen.
Creating this unfiltered view of needs requires effort and time. This unfiltered view also requires a personal commitment to overcome the urges to just do it, act fast, go with what you know, etc. However, in the long run removing your personal seeing and thinking filters can create possibilities for change as an action rather than a reaction and provide a foundation for LEAN work so that only the work that needs to be done gets done, rather than the work we think we need to do.
©2015 Margins and Corners