Last week I received an email regarding the Christmas card that we sent to our family and friends. And the question in that email is the perfect example why every business should consider hiring an external consultant to take a look at the company.
“Hi Eddy, you probably know that I’m working part-time in the company of my relatives, the mirror company. They are already for some time actively working on mirrors that can be used outdoors. I showed them your Christmas card and they immediately were interested: what kind of mirrors did you use?”
Let’s take a closer look at the picture. Part of it is black/white, the other part is in color. Which means there must have been a kind of digital manipulation.
In the b/w part, the clouds seem to speed across the sky (thanks to a very long shutter speed), while in the color part, the clouds are steady (a ‘normal’ shutter speed). Which again points to a digital manipulation combining two images.
And what do we see in both parts of the image? Exactly: the sea. The same sea. If I would have used a mirror, would it be possible to see the sea in both parts? No, of course not.
So, while it’s rather obvious that there must have been some manipulation and especially that it couldn’t have been mirrors, because the subject is the same view on the sea, the mirror specialists didn’t see this… They are so focused on mirrors that they even see mirrors where there are none.
The issue: expert myopia
The issue with the mirror makers, and with almost every other professional, is what I call ‘expert myopia’. We all look at things from a very specific angle, from our field of expertise, of interest, our frame of reference. And in many cases, it can be very good to have a specific look at things – you could even call it professionalism. But it’s a limited, even twisted view. And sometimes that limited, twisted view can harm your company, can prevent you from seeing opportunities, and threats. That’s where the external consultant can – and should – make a difference.
Why is this important?
“We’re professionals, we don’t need anybody from outside telling us how to do things!”, I’ve already heard it many times. But sometimes you do need an external view, because of the expert myopia. That external view can quickly detect your blind spots, removing barriers that limit or even endanger your company, showing improved or even new directions.
But, of course, the consultant you hire should not be a ‘one trick pony’ with his own expert myopia either… He (or she) should also have an open view, be open minded and eager to learn, to try out new stuff. Only when both parties are open minded, magnificent things might happen.
PS: in case you’re wondering what the frame is, it’s a piece of art by Kris Martin, called ‘Altar’. It is inspired by the painting by the Van Eyck brothers: ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’. You can find it on the beach in Ostend, Belgium.