Thursday, July 5, 2007

i-TFTD #26: You are staring at your blindspots

I don't know who discovered water, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a fish.
-Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), media critic & writer

Something to consider:

Just like a fish can't see the water it's swimming in, you can't see the world immediately in front of you. It takes someone with a different perspective to point it out. These people can see opportunities that you can't see. They can see pitfalls that you can' t see. They can see them, ironically, because they aren't staring at them every day.

Something to try:

1. Sit down with a sharp person from another industry (or department or role).
2. Describe the details of a project you're working on (include your challenges).
3. Ask them to point out opportunities you might be missing.
4. Switch it up and do the same thing for them.
5. Recognize that someone else can often see the opportunities/challenges in front of you a lot easier than you can.

(Excerpted from the You are staring at your blind spots post by Doug Sundheim found in the Fastcompany blog archive.)

A similar thought is expressed by the quote: The expert misses the obvious. I have often found that an "innocent" question from someone who is a novice in an area could throw up interesting new perspectives to explore.

Talking of novices, I also believe that our expertise in a subject is measured by whether we can successfully explain the basics of that subject to an absolute layperson. A favourite example I like to imagine is my explaining, say, user interface design as a career to my (late) grandmother.

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