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The Intentional Organisation - Issue #18 - It's all about Perceptions.
1. Understanding Perceptions
Long time ago I have been studying Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) as I was curious on how this approach could support individual development. Unfortunately the discipline has been transformed in a "selling machine", and today it is often associated for its manipulative sides or the link to not-so-clean selling techniques.
But I still think many of its tools are still very valid today. With my coach, I have been using often the concept of the Four Perceptual Positions to analyze a problem and find potential solutions.
Perception is reality
Every person working in a service-led industry must accept the mantra that Perception is Reality. Without moving into the philosophical debate that has marked the issue for centuries, there is a very concrete aspect into this. Often our organizations are so fully oriented on their results, that when the customer does not "buy in" into the products of services delivered, the blaming game starts. The reality hits hard, all your effort, all you work goes down to that little moment when perception forms in the customer. We are only as good as the last meal we served, was a really wise message I read in a London diner.
Working on Perception
The idea of using the Perceptual Positions is a truly good exercise in many ways. For me it directly links to the possibility to exploit methodologies like Design Thinking and Systems Thinking at the fundamental level where perception forms.
The idea is to consider a situation from four angles:
Self: first is to look at the situation from your own personal angle. How do you see, hear or feel about it? What is that matters to you about the situation?
Other: this is the other person reality, like "putting yourself in their shoes". It's about imagining how they can perceive the situation based on what matters to them.
Observer: this is a complete dissociation from the situation, and tries to replicate an "objective" look into what happens. It tries to replicate the situation from the eyes of someone that is not involved.
We: this is the perspective of the system of which we are part. It can be our organisation, our family, or any system we belong to. It's about considering the best interest of the unit as a single entity.
Thinking that the positions are ordered in increasingly higher magnitude of complexity is simplistic. There are people that are perfectly fine in reasoning on Self and We, but not not on the other perceptions. Each angle has its own complexity.
The Beauty of multiple angles
Using this framework allows to see every situation through different frames. For examples, as I have been conducting my onboarding interviews with the new team, I have been substantially using this framework to capture more information. The structure loosely followed these four questions:
What is your experience and role today? (Self)
How are you perceived in the team? (Other)
What should the priorities be for our department? (Observer)
What do you expect from the company in the future? (We)
These are not pure perceptual positions, but each questions tries to move away from one point of view only. I have been using this technique often also in interviews, because it gives me a much better way to figure out how the person in front approaches problems and connects the dots.
What is interesting is that I see often many people reflect on the external perception. We are not used to think of what other think of our roles. Better, many of us are rooted into considering other's perception in the way we dress, the way we behave, the way we speak... But few really consider the perception of our roles. Yet there is an entire domain of potential here to exploit, in terms of self-improvement (understanding your blind spots for example) and strategic thinking.
Beyond Conflict Resolution
The NLP view of the Four Perceptive Positions was mainly focused on conflict resolution and collaboration. In my experience, the true value of this framework goes well beyond this aspect, and help frame issues from a new perspective. Think about a simple process design activity. Applying the Four Perceptive Positions allows to truly think in terms of customer experience, yet it also allows to balance the relationship with the customer with a holistic viewpoint.
Have you tried using this tool?
2. Reading Suggestions
A lot of designers seem to be talking about user experience (UX) these days. We’re supposed to delight our users, even provide them with magic, so that they love our websites, apps and start-ups. User experience is a very blurry concept. Consequently, many people use the term incorrectly. Furthermore, many designers seem to have a firm (and often unrealistic) belief in how they can craft the user experience of their product. However, UX depends not only on how something is designed, but also oth
3. The (un) Intentional Organisation 😁
4. Keeping in Touch
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