The dictionary defines perspective as a new view or vista; or a mental view or outlook.
Both definitions apply to the work researchers at RTI International are conducting with drones. That’s because changing your perspective is a very valuable tool for better understanding a situation.
Think about it. If you keep looking at a problem or an issue the same way time after time, you often get the same results. To come up with a new approach to an old problem, it often helps to look at the problem differently. Exploring new angles often lets you see something new and that leads to innovation.
With that in mind, here are a few tricks I’ve found through the years that might help you gain a new perspective. There’s nothing scientific here, just some friendly advice.
- Walk away.
This sounds odd — after all to solve a problem you need to buckle down and concentrate. But taking a walk gets you away from the project that is stressing you and provides a chance to think clearly. Your mood improves and that allows your brain to explore options.
- Put it on paper.
While we’re talking about exploring options, it often helps to write things down on paper. What you put on paper can include everything from making a list or chart to drawing pictures. I prefer lists myself. Psychologists say by doing your thinking on paper, you start creating structure and order in a situation. That helps to create patterns, which the brain can recognize and use to generate ideas.
- Zoom out.
You could even call this, “Look at the big picture.” If you have a specific problem, it sometimes helps to see how it fits into a larger context. Sometimes that can point the way to a solution. Sometimes that can help you realize you are asking the wrong question or looking at the wrong issue.
- Ask a different question.
Sometimes the reason you can’t find an answer to a problem is because you are asking the wrong question. It can help to rephrase the question, or simplify it and just ask “why?”
The bottom line here is that if you keep asking the same question, or looking at an issue in the same way, chances are you will get the same result. Just as the RTI researchers found when using a drone, try a new perspective.
— Frank Graff
Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on North Carolina Science Now, a weekly science series that airs Wednesdays, beginning in August 2013, as part of North Carolina Now on UNC-TV. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!