“The Dress” has been quite the polarizing topic lately. Some people see it as black and blue, while others see it as white and gold; but we can all agree that there haven’t been nearly enough blog posts about it (insert the sarcasm horn blaring loudly here). Let’s fill the void in the Internet and analyze “The Dress” from a business angle. After all, many conflicts arise when working with people with different perspectives. Some people might work in a blue-and-black style, while others might be more in the white-and-gold camp. Here are four-and-a-half leadership lessons we can learn from “The Dress”:
1. Try to see things from a new perspective. Just because you initially see the solution to a problem as blue and black doesn’t mean everyone sees it that way. Your view may be correct — after all, the dress is actually blue and black — but you’re also in the minority because only 30 percent of the population view it that way. Sometimes leadership isn’t about making decisions that are right as much as it is about making decisions that are right for the team.
2. If a member of your team sees the problem differently, allow him or her to attack it differently. If you have a team member who is white and gold, forcing them to work in a blue/black way won’t help. Giving a long leash to someone who has a different approach not only shows trust, but also uncovers solutions you might not have considered. As legendary businessman Lee Iacocca once said, “I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.”
3. Leverage the strengths of a different perspective. Some experts are suggesting that the black-and-blue people’s brains are better at compensating for lighting tricks. Meanwhile, the white-and-gold folks are usually better at perceiving color. This means both camps have useful assets; you just have to use them differently. Basketball coaching icon Phil Jackson never treated his players equally. He had an individual management plan for each player and in doing so, he balanced superstar egos like Michael Jordan with eccentrics like Dennis Rodman to win 11 NBA championships.
4. Your perspective can evolve. A small percentage of people see the dress at first as white and gold and then later as black and blue. Mind blown? Mine, too. Our perceptions can change over time and change can be a very good thing. PEZ originated as a candy for smokers trying to kick the habit, which is why the now-famous dispenser was created to resemble a lighter. Once they discovered that kids liked to play with it, they put goofy (and frankly, sometimes creepy) cartoon heads on top and the entire company changed.
4.5. No matter what our differences are, we can take comfort in knowing that we all now have an excuse out of a traffic ticket. “Are you sure the light was red, officer? It looked very white, gold, black and/or blue to me.”
Jack Stahlmann is a corporate speaker and Huffington Post blogger. He can be reached at http://www.dontflinchguy.com