If you have always done things a certain way, it can be difficult to identify a better way to get things done. An outsider's perspective can breathe fresh life and insight into your thinking. In fact, it often takes someone with a different point-of-view to recognize opportunities for change and strategic advantage. Their perspective can help you to draw different meanings and conclusions from the same set of facts.
When you reach out to others who may have a different viewpoint, you may stimulate your own breakthrough thinking, too. Seek to establish a regular dialogue with those who are not in the thick of your things -- share a situation that you're facing, ask them for perspective, probe why they see it as they do and how they came to their conclusions -- this will expand your frame of reference and lead to inspired decision-making. Here are my tips:
1. Be Super Approachable
Be sure to establish a "safe zone" around you that encourages people to tell you what they truly think, and, not what they think you want to hear. Being approachable encourages people to provide you feedback when asked (without fear of unintended repercussions) and will enable you to gain their perspective.
2. Seek Out Mentors
Make sure you always have access to people who have rich experience and exercise different skills than you do, and pull them into your thinking when you are making important decisions. Mentors help you to gain form their skills and accomplishments.
3. Invite Your People to the Table
Routinely ask your team for different ways to examine current challenges and you will have a richer palette from which to draw solutions, while providing opportunities for them to learn and grow from each other. Everyone wins through greater collaboration.
4. Become Part of the "In" Crowd
Join and participate in special interest groups, like those offered through industry groups and Social Media sites, like LinkedIn. These groups can provide a platform for you to gather input and insight from other professionals.
5. Ask the Experts
Consultants can also offer fresh perspectives and ideas. Seek out the consultants that you work with and ask them what they've seen work in other settings. Because most seasoned consultants have worked in dozens of places, they are likely to have some thoughts that are worth considering.
Getting into the habit of routinely soliciting outside perspectives can lead to incredible business results, as long as you listen well and are willing to take advice. If you are not one where advice is easily consumed, it may be time to let down your guard and learn how to take advantage of the wisdom that is available around you - you'll be glad that you did.