Monday, August 18, 2008

Another Point of View

In High School I took a class in architectural drawing where we learned how to draw houses in perspective. We were introduced to single and double points of view, with the eye near and far, lower and higher, skewed left and skewed right. There were mechanical means of creating perspective by following the lines from the points on the page with which we began.

There was an important point to be gained from this exercise: your view of the house changed based on where those points were drawn. If you imagined all the vantage points, you gained a sense of the whole structure no matter where you were, or more accurately precisely from all the places you could be. To gain a fuller view, you simply picked up your pencil and moved to another view point.

All this came home to me recently by changing my home. Moving into a new house changes many viewpoints, least of which are all the places to reach and find the routines of going to bed at night, getting up in the morning, reaching to the right place for the toothpaste, the coffee and the light switch. An ingrained routine is unlearned and a new one is learned. In the process, your view of the new house changes, as does your view of the old house. You make hundreds of conscious and unconscious comparisons. You look at the mundane tasks of your life in new ways.

Home at the Beach, Summer 2008

This is not surprising to us in the least because we all rehearse it when we travel. The difference about moving is that the change becomes permanent. This can be maddening, disruptive, and time consuming. But your basic viewpoint of what is "home" changes. Over time, home gains new walls and furnishings that have become familiar.

A major change in your organization is no different, even if you remain in same building. How we look at change depends on our viewpoint. Trying on some different shoes may provide a way of understanding the issues your team will undoubtedly raise (after all, who likes to change?) I first learned this through the Native American proverb: “Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins.
[1]” This is especially true if the shoes don’t fit; in fact, that may be a key reason you gain a new perspective on the issues.

Changing houses may be more radical, and drawing houses more difficult, but it’s the same message: change your viewpoint to gain an understanding.


[1] See a listing of Cheyenne proverbs, here:

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