Together with the Zoom-Out DIMENSIONS, the PRINCIPLES form the Zoom-Out Compass (aka the Zoom-Out “Framework”)
A great way to learn more and apply the Zoom-Out PRINCIPLES and DIMENSIONS is to attend our Zoom-Out Foundation Workshop.
The CORE PRINCIPLE is: “Zoom-Out to find the most helpful perspective”
This core principle is underpinned by the supporting principles.
In total, there are 9 Zoom-Out PRINCIPLES.
Below we provide a summary of each principle in turn.
“Zoom-Out to find the most helpful perspective”
As humans, at times we have a tendency to focus on a particular detail – about a situation, object or person – a detail that is unhelpful. In other words, we are Zoomed-In to our own detriment and often to the detriment of those around us. In addition, we can remain Zoomed-In on this detail for far too long, sometimes for years! The cost or damage can be immense.
By developing our ability to spot when this is the case, and by developing our ability to Zoom-Out to see broader perspectives and options, we can select a more helpful perspective. This could be a Zoom-In on something more helpful. In this way, we can optimise our ‘reality’. This gives us more flexibility and leads to increased effectiveness, resilience and wellbeing.
All of the Zoom-Out principles and dimensions are geared towards raising our awareness of, and our ability to, Zoom-In and Zoom-Out. Zoom-Out being the key, since our tendency is to Zoom-In or get ‘locked-in’ when in fact, Zooming-Out would be in our best interest. Possibly Zooming-Out to select a more helpful Zoom-In.
To Zoom-Out therefore, is to see beyond our current ‘reality,’ to potentially more helpful perspectives.
“All perspectives are wrong but some are helpful”
This principle is a fundamental axiom of Zoom-Out. Any perspective we hold is ultimately a manifestation of what is in our mind, rather than what is purely “out there”. What we see “out there” is as much a projection of our mind as it is an objective and concrete reality. It’s a mental model constructed by our brains with inputs from our senses and influenced by our internal beliefs, numerous biases and conditioning (often deep-rooted). It’s an imperfect and extremely distorted approximation of ‘reality’. Our own unique and subjective ‘reality’.
Yet much of the time, and perhaps all of the time for some people, this “truth” is not known or acted upon. We interpret our subjective reality as objective reality and act accordingly.
Acknowledging this fact should not be disheartening, quite the opposite. Embracing this fact unlocks an incredible amount of potential, personal flexibility and power over our realities.
I often refer to this principles metaphorically as: “A crowbar, to prise open the cracks of reality.”
Or even: “A hacksaw blade, to cut through the bars of your mental prison.”
This article elaborates on this principle further.
“Default perspectives can be overridden”
In any given situation, we have a default perspective. The one that our mind first serves up to us.
Instead of taking this as a given; that this is our reality; we can develop our ability to assess and replace this perspective with a more helpful one. We can override our default perspectives.
This gives us a choice. As is often proposed, happiness is a choice. A choice to choose a more helpful perspective (see PRINCIPLE #7) and not just go with our default perspective.
“Helpfulness eclipses accuracy”
There can be an obsession with accuracy. An obsession with data and getting it right and knowing the “truth”. This is not uncommon in the business world, where being right about a technical solution for example, completely outstrips any consideration of relationships or the broader and longer-term perspectives.
With Zoom-Out, our aim is to balance accuracy with helpfulness as the two are not always the same. With Zoom-Out we are concerned primarily with, how helpful a perspective is; and secondarily, how accurate it is. Since all perspectives are wrong anyway (see PRINCIPLE #2), what we often perceive as being accurate is in fact not totally correct and can indeed be totally wrong without us realising.
“Doubt is power”
There can be an obsession with being certain. Doubt is seen as a weakness. Especially in the business world.
Uncertainty is one of the things that psychologists and anthropologists talk about as being a powerful generator of fear! After all, our ancestors lived in an uncertain world where not being certain could mean we ended up dead.
However, being certain about something which is not actually what we think it is, is not a strength. Never questioning our default perspectives (see PRINCIPLE #3), is not a strength. Rigidly sticking to our beliefs and perspectives, is not a strength. These are weaknesses. Doubt, therefore, can be harnessed as a strength. Doubt is power.
“Attention control is power”
Any perspective we hold only exists because it receives our attention. This may seem self-evident or a pointless statement but within this lies great leverage. By developing our ability to consciously and proactively control our attention, what we pay attention to at any moment, we unleash great power. Power over our personal reality and how we feel, respond and act.
Far too often our attention is reactive. We react to our default perspectives for example (see PRINCIPLE #3), without proactively choosing how much of our attention it deserves, or indeed, if it deserves any attention at all.
With Zoom-Out, we aim to cultivate control over our attention. To be proactive rather than reactive. This is a strength. This is power.
“Happiness is a choice of perspective”
There is plenty of research and evidence (e.g from Positive Psychology) to show that happiness is not simply a result of material wealth and possessions. Happiness has much more to do with what resides between our ears. What is in our mind. Happiness is a state of mind.
This leads to the further assertion that “Happiness is a choice” since we ultimately have control over how we think, our view of the world, and how we view any situation we find ourselves in.
With Zoom-Out, we are more specific and embrace the principle that “Happiness is a choice – of perspective”.
“Happiness leads to performance”
It’s common to focus above all on personal, team and organisational performance. But this can often backfire. Why? Because some measures that are taken to improve performance, with the best of intentions, actually sabotage people’s happiness, motivation and hence their performance.
It has been shown (ed: include references) that the correlation between happiness and performance is twice as strong as the correlation the other way between performance and happiness. That is to say, that increasing performance can boost happiness, but increasing happiness has roughly double the impact on boosting performance.
If we balance the focus on performance with a focus also on happiness, this will tend to boost performance even further.
On a personal level, focusing purely on maximising our performance and achieving such goals, often does not lead to the assumed or expected boost in happiness. So again, we should consider what makes us happy and make that part of the equation when it comes to planning our future and setting personal goals.
“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”
This perhaps requires no explanation. This is as old as the hills. It goes back to the time of Aristotle and perhaps beyond that.
Systems of people, processes or machines, have emergent properties. Properties that are not a result of any single part and cannot be known simply by examining (Zooming-In on) the constituent parts.
Consciousness itself is an emergent property. Dissecting a human body and examining all of the constituent parts would never lead you to deduce consciousness. Consciousness is not the result of any one part our body, not even our brains, but emerges as a property due to the way all of the parts are combined and interoperate.
Systems Thinking also teaches us that focusing (Zooming-In) on the parts of a system and optimising the parts alone can result in sub-optimising the whole system. Also we need to (Zoom-Out) look at the causal relationships that exist between all of the parts. Changing the behaviour of one part of the system may require influencing a different part or relationship in the system that is far removed from that part.
And in a very general sense, by Zooming-Out to view the broader picture, we provide ourselves with a richer and more balanced perspective. This gives us more options and opportunities to keep things in proportion and assign value or priority in a more optimal way. Are we focusing on the most helpful thing in any given situation or moment? Are we missing something? Are we missing some emergent property of the whole?