An illusion of clarity

What do you see?

When we ask this question, many people comment on the Greek revival building and the city in the background.  Others see the businessmen in suits.  Some can’t see the businessmen at all even after we point them out.;

This is exactly what happens when people look at your organization.  Our natural tendency is to assume that others see the same things we do.  We think people care about the same things we do … or at least they should.But, people view your organization differently. Some just see your practices or processes – how you do things.  Others focus primarily on the implicit or explicit promises you make to them –  what is your customer promise?

Or think of it this way.  You’re a leader who describes something important to your organization or team and your “followers” sit there with a blank stare.   You think we’re being clear, but it’s apparent that something is being lost in the translation.

And this is what we find when we talk to companies and work with clients.  The senior team believes that they have communicated a new direction, a need to change behavior, a new way to operate or a new value proposition for their customers, but it just doesn’t connect with employees.

The first step is to ask “What are you seeing?”  Have you done that lately?  Do you know what your people think?  I’m not talking about a new employee satisfaction survey or an engagement survey.  I’m talking about asking the people you are counting on for your business’ success to describe what they see and feel and to make sure you’re in sync.  You’ll be surprised by what you hear.

We used the figure/ground illusion above to illustrate one of the central concepts in our book, Uncommon Sense.

By the way, we do want to know what you saw when you first looked at the illusion above.  Tell us in the comment box below.

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