“It has a tail”
“No, it looks more like a very long nose”
“It that so, that should be very huge then, I only feel skin so far as I can reach.”
A famous story about some Blind men standing around an Elephant trying to guess what is in their midst.
This metaphor implies that one’s subjective experience can be true. Only compared to others’ subjective experiences or the overall picture, it fails. It are not only blind men that have subjective experiences, we all do. In my professional life, it often occurs that I hear a story that makes me wonder why someone is claiming it as the truths. Only when I understand what the person’s viewpoint is, I can track down how that claim of truth was made.
Business transformation is an ongoing process as John Smith notes in one of his articles that “Business strategies are not static and they constantly change as markets evolve, competitors act and new technologies emerge. So what we need is not just an ability to transform the business once, but to transform on an ongoing basis.” Creating a common picture of a desired change makes it possible to discuss business transformation. Why? Visualization will help us in our common understanding of that desired change. By having visualized that common understanding of our change, each of us can visualize their own representation of the common picture in their field of expertise. As we all know, people have different backgrounds and speak different professional languages, understanding each other is difficult. Visualization becomes a language that overcomes professional differences. It helps you to discuss our challenges and wishes with people who normally would not understand your professional language. In the debate we should try to understand each other’s viewpoints. Imagery or figurative language helps to create a common picture in our heads. That picture should reflect to each other’s professional background and supporting the common understanding of the change.
I visualized, in the drawing below, how the process of visualizing common understanding of a change works. The drawing shows that everyone had its own representation of a ball. However, in the center of the drawing there is a common picture that makes communication between different specialists possible. For example: “we need to inflate the ball”. Each stakeholder can see for his own representation of the ball, how it can be inflated.
By putting together our subjective experiences of our own ‘Elephant’, we can see the whole picture of the business change and get to understand the other’s viewpoint of the change.