Perspective Taking Circles

The power of perspective is one of the things that differentiates high output and impact innovators from others. It’s easy to get lucky or have good timing, but it’s another to create value when those things don’t happen.

One of the ways we do this is by engaging in some perspective-taking. This simple exercise and question set can help build some of the ‘thought muscles’ that can help encourage us to see, imagine, and engage things differently for creative benefit.

The Exercise

This works best when physically in the same space and can work online as well. What you need is to create a space where people can re-position themselves against a central object that can be almost anything except a ball (because it looks the same from every angle). Place your participants around the object with a comfortable space to sit or stand.

You can do this virtually using a dynamic space like Kumospace or some other virtual reality-like environment. It can also work using a board like Miro or Mural with some designed object in the middle, but it is more awkward.

The idea is that everyone has a chance to literally see things from a different point of view.

This can be done as an observation exercise but is more enhanced when it is combined with drawing. Asking people to draw what they see — no matter what kind of skills or abilities participants have with sketching — is a great means to engage people in thinking more deeply about their perspective.

Once individuals have had time to observe and reflect on what they see, the next step is to have everyone share their perspective. This is where drawings are useful as people can speak to what they drew as drawing focuses us on certain elements and provides a means to account for those perspectives. It also allows others to point to the drawing and make specific, not general comments.

It’s that specificity that is key to illuminating and articulating differences of perspective.


The role of this method is to reveal how where we sit in a system — even a small one of people interconnected around a shared experience of an object — can have remarkably different perceptions of the same thing in the same space.

It begins to build cultural practices around creating space for exploring and sharing perspectives within an organization and can serve as a base for better organizational design and learning.

It’s simple, engaging, and revealing in its method.

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