Sunday, June 13, 2010

What You See Is Where You Sit

Is there a better sporting event than the World Cup?
Like the slogan says, "One game changes everything."
Yesterday I found myself holding my breath for 90 minutes while the U.S. team struggled to a 1-1 tie against England--thanks to a stunning error by the British keeper.
When the game was over I turned into a bitter U.S. fan: why hadn't the American team done a better job of controlling the ball? What was wrong with the defense to allow a goal in the 4th minute? Where were the sustained build-ups that world class teams showcase?
Then I went on the web to read the coverage of the match by the British press.
Of course, the soft goal scored by the U.S. got a lot of attention. But the Brits gave enormous credit to the tenacity of the U.S. defense, to the improved soccer know-how of the team, to the role played by Landon Donavon, the speed of the U.S. team overall.
They'd watched a completely different game, a game in which their team, favored to win, had been thwarted by a rugged U.S. effort.
I had a similar moment when, after reading U.S. press coverage of the B.P. oil spill, and President Obama's apparently too-soft response, I read the weekend editorial in The Financial Times.
Their point: Obama should lay off BP. What good did harsh attacks against the company and its leadership do?
BP's stock price was plummeting--which was bad for U.S. shareholders, as well as those in Britain.
Why not put aside the emotional response and tackle the problem with clear, cold pragmatism?
What you see is where you sit.
It applies to companies, customers, suppliers, vendors, entrepreneurs--and soccer fans (sorry, football, for the World Cup) and leaders coping with vast environmental disasters.
Try changing where you sit if you want to see the same set of circumstances with fresh eyes.

All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb