There’s a story about a group of engineers who were tasked with creating a car that was possible of driving 75 miles on just a gallon of gas, the response from the engineers was always the same, that from a car engineering perspective this was impossible. A group of students who specialized in a variety of fields from materials to energy argued that not only is that possible, but it’s possible to get 100 miles, and using some lightweight materials and other components, they were able to achieve this…so it begs the question, how did a group of students who don’t specialize in car engineering figured out a solution that engineers who specialize in that field couldn’t?
It’s because they were able to look at the problem from a different angle or “lens”. This is important in the area of Instructional Design, Organizational Development, and leadership for a variety of reasons. How many times have you been faced with an employee you can’t seem to communicate with, or a project that doesn’t seem to have a solution? Or maybe you can’t figure out the best way to design a course? Can it be that it is because you are only viewing it through your lens of life? That is a lens that is focused around your experiences, your job, your training, and your education?
In CDOL (Center for Distance and Online Learning) this paradigm of shifting viewpoints or “lenses” is essential for our line of business. We are constantly looking at training from different angles. In one example we have recently been discussing Special Education and how kids can learn more effectively. From the standpoint of an Instructional Designer it was “Let’s create training that effectively hits all the learning styles”, from the perspective of a web developer it was “let’s create a website that provides interactive activities and clickable elements”, the videographer suggested “ let’s record videos that emphasize how they learn and develop in groups”. All different lenses with the same end goal desired all with their own level of effectiveness and success depending on if you can view things from said lens.
So next time you have a problem, anything from development to figuring out a project, then just think about the idea of changing your “lens” or how you are viewing the problem, you may be surprised at the “out of the box” solution you may come up with.
For more information on how to change your lens, you may follow these links:
About John Chavez
John is an Instructional Designer with the Center for Distance and Online Learning.