My brother is visiting from Canada this weekend. As we drive through Devon lanes, where hedges are 10 feet high and thick, I hear him gasp in wonder. He asks questions and points out things, I’ve never noticed. These hedges are right on the edge of the road. This is possible because Devon has little snow and no snowplows need to push snow off the roads in the winter. The hedges are old, most pre-date the introduction of the car. The width of the lanes would never be acceptable in North America as a two-way road, some might not be accepted a one-way road, and yet, here in Devon, they are two-way. And yes, throughout it all there is lots of talk about pants, crisps & chips, soccer vs football, and lots of laughter with the children.
Throughout the time together, there are new insights provided, new perspectives. I am amazed at how ‘familiar’ life in Devon has become for me. How much I don’t notice or question anymore. ‘It’s just the way things are done around here.’
While working on change, the organisations we are working in can become familiar. The things we notice or question can narrow. Sometimes the role of the change maker is to bring fresh eyes and ears to situations. Other times, it is to remember the value of this and bring a trusted outside advisor to the situation to help us to notice again.
You don’t need to wait for a problem to bring someone in either. ‘Seeing and hearing afresh’ is a critical skill for change and for leadership. Always. Not just in challenging times. And what ‘bringing in’ looks like will depend on your situation. However, there is a part of it that requires immersion in some form or another. This is not about only exposing the good bits, this is a warts and all exposure. Therefore, the person must be trusted, safe.
So who could you ‘bring in’ this week to help you see and hear afresh?