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GO COMMANDO FOR A DAY

January 4, 2011

Change your perspective, change your business
By Robbie Vorhaus

Photo by Petras Giligas

Succeeding in the hospitality business is both a blessing and a curse. Yet, the outside perception is that F&B is nothing but fun. The reality, however, is that few jobs are more challenging and filled with constant pressure and conflict.

So, do you want to retain staff longer? Improve cash flow? Create a sustainable buzz for your brand? Find a better way to reduce shrinkage, improve customer satisfaction, or create a greater flow between the front and back of the house?

If you want to avoid a crisis, or discover something important you don’t already know, change your perspective.

Sleep upside down on your bed for a night.

Take a different route or mode of transportation to work.

Try not talking for one day.

Watch a TV show you’ve never seen. Go to a new restaurant. Walk up to a complete stranger and ask them an innocent question about pop culture. Don’t wear underwear for a day.

For years, I’ve encouraged my clients, especially those in power, to completely change their point of view – even just for a day – and take careful note of what both their head and heart reveals. I love watching CBS’s Undercover Boss, for exactly this reason. It’s impossible to truly see an organization clearly when you’re always standing at the top looking down.

Albert Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.” Changing your perspective is essential for stimulating innovation and creativity, along with avoiding both personal and professional crisis.

Most crises are avoidable, or can be greatly diminished, if you allow yourself the vision and creativity to foresee the possibility of a potential disruptive event. Yet the majority of my clients, along with most people, organizations and governments, resist planning for a crisis; because in their current world, everything looks and feels the same today as it did yesterday, so they mistakenly believe that tomorrow will be okay, too.

For those of us who operate in the world of crisis, including the military, law enforcement, fire fighters and security protection, the greatest threat is the one we haven’t identified and trained for. Yet trying to convince a CEO, board of directors, government leader, entrepreneur, or celebrity that they are ill-prepared for a crisis or reputational event is often met with resistance. The response is usually that we are over reacting or being apocalyptic.

Human nature lulls us into the illusion of sameness, because, for so many, the thought of change, or being out of control, is scary and painful. Not acknowledging the possibilities for future disruptions in normal patterns and business cycles leaves you, your business, and reputation exposed and vulnerable.

Still, changing perspective takes both time and courage. For most, sleeping upside down, or not wearing underwear for a day, seems silly. Yet by creating an entirely new perspective, you literally, as Einstein said, see and experience the world anew.

Preparing for a potential crisis can be both fun and inspiring. I love taking leadership teams off on retreat. We might spend hours in our pajamas, produce and perform a talent show, play children’s games, invent a new language, or walk backwards for a day. And when through, these leadership teams come away inspired, closer together, and more confident in their ability to meet challenges as a cohesive unit. Further, these teams always uncover many previously hidden brand and reputational hazards that now, thanks to their change in perspective, are prevented from ever happening.

Here are some other ideas on how you and your team can change their perspective:
1) Pretend you’re a competitor launching a new brand directly against yours. What do you see as the target brand’s perceived strength and weaknesses?
2) Switch jobs, or work alongside a junior person for a day.
3) Deliberately bring your product or service to failure.
4) Visit experts, educators and policy makers who are influenced by your industry. Then share what you learn with a competitor.
5) Tell your story to people who don’t know you and have absolutely nothing to do with your business. Ask them to repeat back to you what they heard, and describe what you do.

What else can you do to change your perspective?

Robbie Vorhaus supports and advises global leaders, brands, and entrepreneurs on award-winning and highly effective Public Relations, Reputation, and Crisis campaigns. Vorhaus is an internationally recognized authority and master communications strategist, an acclaimed public speaker, and an inspirational teacher. He can be reached at robbie@vorhaus.com, or visit Vorhaus’s website at www.vorhaus.com.

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