“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are”
Perception is a major and old area of study in the field of Psychology. Perception is how we organize, understand and interpret the world around us: what we see, what we hear, what we feel, what we smell, and what we taste. Dependent upon the business you are in, all five senses may play a role or perhaps just one or two. There is the belief that perception alters and may distort our vision of reality, perhaps masking the truth. If people come to a situation with a preconceived notion of what should be, they might tend to see what they expect, not what is there. So, we tend to bring to a given situation an inherent bias that may color the reality. The point of note here is that in viewing a business situation you need to see what is there, not what you expect to be there based upon previous experience, training, or expectations. That may be difficult to do.
Without a doubt, perception is a complex phenomenon influenced by personal values and/or beliefs, experience, attitude, education and training. An individual’s level of perception also may have some hereditary basis. Perception operates in all aspects of our life: our personal life; our social life; and, most certainly, our business life.
Specifically, what role is played by perception in business? If one accepts and understands that developing a vision, or predicting where a market will develop, or identifying major trends that impact the basic fabric of society, or determining how best to take advantage of an opportunity, is an essential part of running any business, then you accept perception as a basic ingredient in those processes. Sometimes, that hunch or gut feeling one gets is a form of perception. Remember that perception is how we see things and how we arrange and interpret those things to come to a conclusion or to make a decision. Consequently, perception is a principal ingredient in the management of a business and it can be a powerful tool in business, if properly recognized and applied.
A new wave of business leaders are doing much to change their perceptions, particularly in the tech industry, which is leading the drive for a more positive future for the human race. At Skylab, CEO&Founder Dean Grey is known in the network marketing industry as one of the most inspirational and charismatic keynote speakers and his perception relies on the idea to help others: “It’s a Reward Within Itself”.
Perception in business is a reality. It is an essential part of one’s package of business skills. It is a core competency. To deny these statements is to deny a basic attribute of entrepreneurship, leadership and decision-making. Perception is basic and integral to how we see and assess opportunities and how we will pursue opportunities. It is how we view our business environment and the elements that make up that environment both internal (staff, resources, equipment, services, products) and external (the market, the customer/client, the competition); and, it is much more. It is also the identification and understanding of major trends, especially long-term trends, that affect the basic structure of society (aging population, empty-nesters, women returning en masse to the workforce, decline in manufacturing jobs and the increase in service sector jobs, global economics, growth in the health care industry, information technology and the trend to inter-company collaboration).
Peter Drucker, business management sage of the 20th Century, considered perception the skill essential to making bold, creative decisions. In Managing in a Time of Great Change, he said :
“Today, perceptiveness is more important than analysis. In the new society of organizations, you need to be able to recognize patterns to see what is there rather than what you expect to see.”
Therein lays the key benefit to applying or invoking the right perception. There also is the core problem. We need to see what is there, not what we expect to see. How do we do that? Here are a few suggestions.
Eliminating the ego in decision-making is the major component. The ego is personal baggage based on previous knowledge, previous experience and expectations. It may not be all bad, but, then again, it may. It colors one’s view and may even distort the image that you ought to be seeing. Clearing one’s mind and taking, as much as possible, an open and simple view of the business environment, to see it as it is and not as one wants it to be is the objective. The results of eliminating ego, hopefully, are a fresh view and through that fresh view the identification of new business opportunities.
Related to eliminating ego is this: assume nothing. Assumptions must fit reality. That means having a good grasp on your business environment: the existing situation, the opportunities for growth, what the competition is doing what the client wants (always a moving target), to mention a few. So, assume nothing; get the facts; check and re-check and check again.
Acquire a clear and working knowledge of those long-term trends we spoke of in Part One of this Article. These are the trends or shifts in society, existing and emerging, which change the basic structure of society, including the business sector. These long-term trends significantly affect the business decisions we take, or ought to take.
Perception has always been an important part of the business management decision-making process and will always remain so. Perception, appropriately understood and applied, is a key business skill and is the leading edge in recognizing and developing business opportunities.
“This gives us the opportunity to change our environment and thus, change ourselves for the better.”
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