I spent this weekend in Wales with a group of amazing women.
My running club, exclusively for women only, arrange an annual walking weekend and this year twenty three of us spent the weekend in a Victorian workhouse, transformed into a fairly rustic hostel, in Llanfyllin in mid-Wales. I know how much wonderful variety we have in this group and so I knew that this would be a rich vein of inspiration for my next blog post. It didn’t take long to find that inspiration.
My instinctive expectation was that I would be writing something about team roles, and how new groups work together to identify what those roles are. Not that we are a new group as such – many of us have known each other for several years. But the mix on the annual ramble varies each year, and these weekends are much more intense than our usual hour long chatty runs, and so there is a new dynamic to be formed.
As it turned out though, the team element didn’t spark my interest quite as much as a realisation I had when reviewing the inevitable photographic posts on social media when we all returned.
All of us had stayed at the same venue, participated in the same walks, sat on the same hillside for lunch, eaten and drank in the same pub, sat around the same firepit in the evening. My expectation was therefore a catalogue of approximately the same set of photographs from each of us. But as each person uploaded their photographs I saw something very different. A unique perspective reflecting each individual’s background and the impact of this on their experience of the weekend. My photos are generally broad landscapes reflecting my love of open spaces, others have snapped shots of the people in the group taken to tell the story of the weekend. Some shots are carefully framed close ups with a more artistic slant, some have a clear focus on food! Some posted a few choice photos, others posted everything they had taken allowing the viewer to sieve through and choose their favourites. Some chose to take no photos at all and simply to leave with memories.
So this leads to a lovely montage of photographs but also to a serious point. If twenty three women, who are not exactly diverse in the broadest sense of the word, can have such unique perspectives on the same weekend, can you even begin to imagine how many individual viewpoints there are on every problem, every decision, every success, every failure, at every level and specialism in the workplace?
I’m not suggesting for a moment that each one of these perspectives can realistically be gathered and considered in most business decisions – nothing would ever get done. But the next time someone challenges you, or you need to challenge them, remember that their perspective is unique and real. The next time you are involved in a decision that affects a number of people, remember that group is made up of individuals who are the sum of their own experiences. A little more discussion could help you to understand these unique perspectives and might just lead to a more creative and collaborative solution.