“It’s important to be able to step outside of ourselves and ask, ‘How can we make things better?’” says Sherry Coker, OTC Center for Workforce Development Business Development Director. Coker says sometimes you need an outside perspective to help find the root cause of a problem. Question why your organization does things a certain way. Don’t let ego stand in the way.
- - I was working with a client who was having a hard time identifying why her company was missing some strategic performance goals, including overages on direct and indirect costs, as well as missing deadlines. The individuals responsible for those goals had more than 25 years of experience. So she couldn't figure out why her team was missing these key performance indicators.
I'm Sherry Coker with the OTC Center for Workforce Development. Take a moment to look at these words. What do you see? Do you see opportunity is nowhere? You're right. Take a look again. Now, do you see opportunity is now here? You're right too. Whichever you saw first, you may not have seen the second, if not for an outside perspective. Have you ever done something the same way for so long you stop asking why you've always done it that way? Sometimes our ego gets in the way of making changes to systems or processes that we may have been the ones to create in the first place. It's important to be able to step outside of ourselves and ask, how can we make things better?
Have you stopped asking why we do things? When you can't see the forest for the trees, a third party viewpoint is beneficial. They come in with only questions and no answers. They aren't vested in the way things are. An outside perspective could be someone from another department, a different division, or an outside consultant. Regardless of which you choose, just remember you're looking for a person with a non-biased perspective. Someone who can perhaps frame the problem differently or be able to see that what you see as a root cause, is actually just a symptom.
Let's go back to the example of my client who was not hitting goals for cost controls and deadlines. With our outside perspective, we were able to identify the root cause of the problem as being the reluctance of the individuals with the years of experience to change the way they've always managed projects, which worked fine until the workload increased.
As the workload increased, the way they were doing things before was proving ineffective. Causing the cost overages and delays. We were able to develop a solution that not only trained to the skill of the individual, but as to why this would be an improvement. This was an opportunity to change the perspectives of the professionals to see new ways of increasing their own productivity, and at the same time, the profitability goals of the company.
Even though you might ask yourself a million questions to come up with a solution to the problem, sometimes the most important thing you can seek is help from someone with a different perspective.
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