What Else are We Missing? The Value of Diverse Perspectives

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Imagine you want to improve a cell phone camera’s imaging solution. Think of all the issues you might consider:  Typical answers relate to the optics of the camera:  resolution, processing of light, AWB (the auto while balance algorithm). Did you also consider addressing the microphones?

Babik Foruntanpour (www.dontdreamalone.com) tells a fascinating story in Braden Kelley’s new book Charting Change, about how his team unleashed its creativity to innovate significant enhancements in Qualcomm’s imaging solution.

Taking the wider perspective – that smartphones have lots of sensors – his team recognized that by turning on the microphone to listen for buzzing of fluorescent lights, they could tell if the user is in sunlight or artificial light. That led the team to discover other smartphone assets that could enhance the imaging solutions. For instance, by sending out an ultrasonic pulse, the speakers could be used to liste for reflections; if it hears echoes then the user is probably indoors. Similarly the system’s GPS system and clock could be used to tell whether the sun had probably set, indicating that the light source was artificial.

The ability to tap into non-light sensors for information to feed its imaging algorithms, was something that had never been considered before by the camera team. But a team of outsiders who started with a different perspective (focusing on the context for the camera – the smartphone), were able to offer breakthroughs for Qualcomm, which were patented.

At Vistage Worldwide’s local meetings, the value of getting input from experienced leaders with different perspectives is seen monthly, as members pose challenges and others share “outsider†perspectives.  It’s one of the reasons that Vistage members grow their companies faster than non-member competitors, according to studies by Dunn and Bradstreet.

I see the same phenomenon when I help improve clients’ presentations. The “outside perspective†I’ve acquired, after helping thousands of leaders develop effective presentations, enables me to suggest ways to turn data into compelling fact patterns and persuasive stories.

How have you used the input of outsiders to help you develop superior solutions to business challenges?  Share your stories.