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The Value of an Outside Perspective

by Leadership Participant

One of the things that I have been working on since our session in February is using the three lenses – strategic, political, and cultural – to get a multidimensional perspective on changes and projects which I am leading at the School of Music, Theater, and Dance (SMTD).  As I think about perspective in this way and the work I’ve been doing in the past six months, I notice a related theme… inside and outside perspective.

I’ve been on the staff at the SMTD for over 17 years, and was a student at the school before that – I definitely have an inside view of the organization. Although a deep understanding of the unit and the relationships I’ve formed over many years are certainly valuable, I’ve been reminded of the value of an outside perspective in a number of ways as I have had more opportunity to interact with the wider IT community at Michigan – both through the MOR program, other campus IT groups, and the MiWorkspace discovery process.

• Learning more about the issues facing different IT groups on campus, what we have in common and how we are unique, and how others are dealing with those issues are all valuable in giving me a fresh perspective on the issues I am facing.  

• There’s nothing quite like describing to someone new – as we are doing in the MiWorkspace discovery process – everything that you do and why you do it to make you see things you have been doing for years in a new light.  

• The MOR sessions and coaching have been valuable in giving me an outside perspective on the work I’m doing, helping me see my role as a leader in new ways.

One of the other benefits of an outside perspective I’ve had recently has nothing to do with IT or leadership… hearing from people outside the SMTD who have attended performances by our students and talking to an alum now at another university about how recent student and faculty work has helped me remember why I ended up here in the first place and have stayed for 17 years and counting – the inspiring and creative work being done by the students and faculty as part of the teaching, research and service mission of the University.   It’s a good reminder to keep that larger mission in focus while working on all the details that support it.

Speaking of outside, don’t forget to get outdoors and enjoy some of this warmer weather we’re finally having – a sure way to get a fresh perspective on whatever issue you may be working on!