In work and life, we often face a problem, crisis or concern requiring critical thinking.
Emotions, circumstances and human relationships can make this process difficult.
In our work with clients, we find that using a framework of perspective and time helps with such situations.
PERSPECTIVE – CURRENT VIEW
Sometimes the current lens may not contain the necessary information to decide — insufficient data points. And the more we stay at this level, the more likely we can get stuck and ‘spin our wheels’.
Instead, it may help to either zoom in or zoom out.
PERSPECTIVE – ZOOMING IN
What is really going on here? Zooming in is about reflective introspection and getting more granular detail.
The former seeks to look first in the mirror, whilst the latter is about having a microlens. Both of these give us more internal data and information.
PERSPECTIVE – ZOOMING OUT
Widening perspective takes a macro look at the problem to be solved. If zooming in is about looking in the mirror, zooming out is about looking out the window – externalise instead of internalise. Zooming out takes a helicopter view – a panoramic lens. Zooming out considers the environment in which the problem is.
TIME – NOW
In a crisis, it is not uncommon for us to be fenced in by time – caught up in the present and the immediacy of a problem.
Whilst sometimes quick and immediate action is necessary, slowing the decision-making down can be quite healthy.
It is human nature to be uneasy or in a heightened state of stress triggered by a crisis, conflict or misunderstanding.
We tend to want to decide or act in the now to eliminate this discomfort or dissonance.
It is helpful to ask ourselves: Is a decision or action today necessary? Would it be better to consider the problem tomorrow with a clearer head? Or even after a few days? Should I make that call or send that email or text right now? Can it wait?
TIME – HISTORY
Considering the past can often help in a crisis. How is this problem any different? Has it happened before? How often? What were the causes? What were the implications? What were the solutions?
Learning our lessons from history allows us not to repeat it!
TIME – FUTURE
Finally, future-pacing the scenario allows us to contextualise its urgency and importance.
Will we look back on this moment in a year or five year’s time with different eyes?
Does it seem as severe and critical?
GORE’S WATERLINE TEST
Bill Gore, who invented the famous Gore-Tex fabric, Elixir guitar strings, and 3,500 unique inventions, left his famous Waterline Test for his successors to consider.
Put simply, the test asks will this decision, initiative or risk put a hole in the ship above or below the water line?
If it is above the waterline, you’re likely to survive a bad decision. If it is below the waterline, you may sink the ship. Never risk sinking the ship.