Leaders often suffer from “power poisoning” and focus on their own needs and ambitions. A perspective swap – where, for example, a CEO works as a customer service representative for a day, or an HR representative works in sales for a week – can help detox leaders from blind spots and distorted views of what is actually happening in their teams. Perspective changes can also be effective when used later by different teams, such as sales, and marketing, helping cross-functional teams gain a deeper understanding of the challenges that dealt with by other departments. At the heart of perspective swap is the idea that there is always more than one way of looking at a situation. They help build “cognitive flexibility” — the ability to think creatively and adapt in response to new situations and changing endeavors. Ultimately, exchanges of views foster a culture of innovation and empowerment that leads to better outcomes for all involved.
To remain competitive, businesses must continue to challenge the status quo and find ways to again themselves. In the world where Satisfaction As comfortable as it may be, an unconventional approach can shake organizations out of their traditional ways: It’s called a perspective swap. For example, a CEO may spend a day working as a customer service representative. Or, an HR representative might spend a week working in sales.
A perspective swap involves intentionally shifting your point of view to gain a new understanding of a situation. Despite this switcheroos Arguably valuable for all businesses, midsize companies are especially poised to benefit from them because they contend with less bureaucracy and red tape than their larger counterparts, but are still embedded with enough complexity to profit from. to change the mindset.
“Vertical” Exchange of Perspective
The perspective swap can be used vertically – up and down your organizational chart – or laterally across different functional groups. Vertical perspective swaps occur between leaders and their employees. Leaders often suffer “electrical poisoning” and focus on their own needs and ambitions. Changes in perspective can help detox leaders from blind spots and distorted views of what is really going on in their teams.
At Vincit, a mid-sized IT services company based in Finland, one employee is selected every month CEO for a day. They are given an unlimited budget to make a decision that improves the workplace. From instituting new co-worker lunches aimed at building connections among employees to implementing new employee mental health resources during the pandemic, the program has brought rapid and meaningful changes. For CEO Ville Houttu, the program helped show his own blind spots and get a clearer picture of how to best serve his employees.
When changes in perception occur at the highest echelon of a company, the stakes can be high (an unlimited budget in the wrong hands can be disastrous). Fortunately, there are ways to lower the stakes. One option is to use simulations. In its annual planning summit, San Francisco-based cloud infrastructure company HashiCorp is running a virtual simulation which shook the traditional power structure. The leaders were divided into groups and given the opportunity to act as “CEO” for two days. Unexpected events, or “wobblers,” are thrown into the mix to test the team’s ability to respond to change with agility.
“Lateral” Exchange of Perspective
Vision changes can also be effective when used later by different teams, such as sales, marketing, and HR.
Venture capitalist Ben Horowitz applied a perspective swap at one of his portfolio companies after he noticed that two teams — customer support and sales engineering — were airing “complaints” at each other and struggling to work together. Fresh from watching the movie “Freaky Friday,” Horowitz ordered the leaders of the two teams to exchange seats.
It works. After just one week, the leaders gained a deeper understanding of each other’s challenges and resolved the issues that caused the dispute.
In our latest RESEARCH REVEALS on The Work Innovation Lab, we study the evolving role of IT professionals, especially CIOs and CTOs. We know there are three groups whose business priorities IT professionals struggle to understand most today: legal, finance, and HR. Yet cross-functional collaboration among these teams is essential: members of the IT team must collaborate with members of the legal team to address cybersecurity threatswith finance team members to cut budgets and double profits, and with HR team members to improve digital employee experience.
Consider which of your teams stand to gain the most from changes in perspective. Instructing members of different teams to temporarily swap places can encourage new levels of empathy and understanding – and, if all goes well, productive organizational change.
Exchange of Perspectives at the Project or Initiative Level
Vision swaps can also be valuable when applied to specific projects, initiatives, or innovation efforts, such as AI-related initiatives.
A key reason AI initiatives have failed to live up to their promise is that AI developers are often hidden from end-users in technology. By flipping the script and bringing end-users into the development process, you can increase the likelihood that AI implementations will meet the needs of your people and deliver tangible value.
At The Work Innovation Lab, we recently designed an experiment where members of Asana’s marketing team suggested ways to use generative AI as part of their daily roles. Instead of having technology thrust upon them by developers, they are put in the driver’s seat to brainstorm ways they can incorporate technology into their own work.
Ultimately, exchanges of views foster a culture of innovation and empowerment that leads to better outcomes for all involved.
Why Do Perspective Swaps Work?
At the heart of perspective swap is the idea that there is always more than one way of looking at a situation. But changes in perspective aren’t just about finding new inspiration. They help build “cognitive flexibility” — the ability to think creatively and adapt in response to new situations and changing endeavors.
Swaps can also fuel what psychologist Daniel Kahneman calls “System 2” thinking. Unlike the fast and intuitive System 1 thinking that dominates our thought processes, System 2 thinking is slower and more deliberate. For leaders, this can be especially valuable, because they are often plagued by blind spots and confirmation bias – looking for information that confirms their beliefs.
A perspective swap can unlock the mental flexibility you, your employees, and your organization need to accept and adapt to change. In the words of the esteemed author Dan Brown“Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.”