It’s all in your perspective

Joe Limbaugh, Motion Industries

Growing up, I was fortunate to receive a lot of art training from my grandfather. He was the art director for an advertising firm that had many high-profile retail clients. Before digital technology, art for flyers and magazines was handled through original media. I can remember riding “the L” as it clattered its way through the Loop in Chicago; one of the stops was a few blocks from Grandpa's studio.

Once inside the studio, I was free to roam around and engage with the artists as they sketched, painted, and photographed the wares to be advertised. It all looked so effortless. It was a magical place that looked and felt creative. A large part of this creativity was the byproduct of diversity. Grandpa was a firm believer that creative energy came from different cultures or experiences, and when those cultures were nourished and encouraged, perspectives could be revealed that otherwise would remain untapped. He viewed this as a competitive advantage.

As part of my art studies, I was drilled in the concept of perspective: the art of representing a three- dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface, depicting height and length accurately. That would be part of learning how to master “the artist’s eye,” or as Grandpa would call it, “understanding and seeing what you are looking at.”

As I got older, I was introduced to another form of perspective: “an attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.” This requires an entirely different set of muscles from visual perspective. And unlike visual perspective, this type of perspective can be enhanced with more viewpoints.

In supply chain, having many and varied perspectives can be the difference between success and failure. But where does it come from? Traditional theories held that the more experience one had, the broader one's perspective. After all, the more you live, the more you experience, right? But what if your experiences are limited to a narrow set of circumstances? And as technology changes at ever-rising rates, traditional experiences can feel limiting. I recognize this in myself. After almost 35 years in the industrial distribution business, I am aware that my personal work experiences might not always be helpful.

When this happens, I choose to focus on the doughnut, not the hole. So I bolster my experience with the energy of our supply-chain team. Varied in their interests, experiences, and backgrounds, these people make our creative and problem-solving discussion current, relevant, and fresh. And they never let me down. I am always truly excited when I know that we will have the full team together to work on various projects. They are smart, creative, and respectful of each other’s talents and limitations. It’s always a fun meeting.

If your department’s response to opportunities seems flat, it might be time for a new perspective. Invite some additional people to your next meeting and broaden the experience pool. Or, find a different place to meet than the place you normally go. A change in perspective might be what is needed.

The comedian George Carlin once wrote: “Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”