Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Perspective as a Tool for Association Executives: 4 Questions To Ask

This is how we usually see our clothes closets
My early experiences in photography showed me the value of perspective and how really great photos are often those taken with an unusual perspective. 

I was able to watch two master photo journalists: one at the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald and the other with The Associated Press. Their “eye” for great photos always amazed me. And their use of perspective created awesome photos.

And, so?

I often do stretching exercises on the floor of our clothes closet. 

Now, looking at our closet from the floor up (see photo below), makes for an unusual perspective. And, it reminded me of the lessons I’ve learned about the importance of perspective in great photography.
Looking at clothes closet from floor up offers different perspective
And looking at problems from a different perspective helps association executives find solutions to issues they face.

Back on Feb. 26, I wrote Solving association problems may mean stepping back.  I asked, “Have you ever faced a major issue in your association and realized that the closer you focused on it the less focused it became?”
  • I thought of that question when I was looking through the lanai (a screened-in cage) to see the golf balls across the lake. I stepped forward to try to get a better view of the balls ... and realized that the closer I got to the screen, the less I could see. The photos in the original blog showed the dilemma: the closer I got, the fuzzier the view.
So, when you and/or your association faces difficult issues, remember that seeking different perspectives may yield better solutions.

Here are some ways you might gain greater perspective:
  1. Use a reversal technique. Answer the question of “what would turn away our members?” Or, “what could we do that would keep members from registering for our conference?” List these answers and then brainstorm on how you can do the reverse.
  2. Get beyond the “curse of knowledge” and ask non-members and/or non board members for their feedback. Probe for their ideas and/or reactions.
  3. Look for the “second right” answer. When I was on a college recruitment team, prospects that decided to go to a different college would tell us our college was too expensive. But, we kept asking “what else” ... and that usually gave us the real answer and led to solutions.
  4. Consider focus groups. One client conducted focus groups of potential consumers. A few of our officers were “behind the mirror” and couldn’t believe what they were hearing. So, at their request, we held focus groups in front of the membership at our convention. This helped members see what we needed to change.
What tactics do you use to find different perspectives in your problem solving?

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