Zoom farther out

The facilitation activity I use most often is a spectrum exercise. I draw a horizontal line and label each end, either with opposite words (e.g. proactive/reactive) or happy/sad faces or yes/no. Then I invite participants to mark an X where they sit on that continuum on whatever issue we’re talking about. It makes visible two different things: does the group tilt toward one pole or the other (i.e. “If this line were a teeter totter, would it tilt to the right or left?”), and how consistent are participants in their views (i.e. how spread out or clustered are their Xs)? It takes three minutes and makes lots of good information visible. I love high leverage tools.

But what happens if I’ve mislabelled the ends of the line? What if “no” is actually “not really” and I should have extended the line to add “definitely not?” How might my interpretation of the feedback be different then?

In Factfulness, Hans Rosling draws attention to considering what conclusions we might draw from a line graph if the line were extended longer.

Both examples are about zooming out.

This principle applies to our relationships too. If you’re a dog lover and he’s a cat lover…can you zoom out and get in the same boat of loving pets together? If you’re more conservative than I am, what happens if, instead of focusing on that difference between us, I zoom out and realize that we’re actually sitting together at one end of a much longer political spectrum?

Where might you be too close to something right now? If you elevate your perspective, I wouldn’t be surprised if that perspective shifts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *