Caught in perspective

The battle for the truth is becoming increasingly difficult in the VUKA world. Wherever something happens, observers document the happenings with their cell phones. And if there is no other evidence, then the blurred and out-of-focus images become the one angle on the event. The same applies when journalists make a report with pro-shots. In both cases, we only see an image frame. Everything outside the edge of the image and beyond the horizon remains hidden from us. Even with multiple positions, we only get the selected views. These can be enriched by “original sound” to remember afterward sights that we did not see at all. Every single person is caught after that in the subjectively noticed perspective.

The surface of a screen or a monitor corresponds to our field of vision. We always form an image from a specific perspective resulting from the following aspects.

  • The biological blueprint
    Our perception is limited to visible light with 400 to 750 nm wavelengths. However, we see the best 555 nm during the day and 507 nm at night. Outside these ranges, we are blind. To reveal ultraviolet and infrared, we need technical devices.
    Further limitations are created by the field of view of our eyes that has 214 degrees horizontally and about 150 degrees vertically. Our eyes at the forefront of the head provide only slightly more than half of the all-around view. Of course, we can turn our heads to where our attention is directed by our senses (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or olfactory). At the same time, other areas disappear.
  • The biased awareness
    We receive far more sensory data than we think. However, the healthy brain blocks most stimuli from the environment or our body. Otherwise, we would be entirely overwhelmed by the flood of influx. These filters are less active in people who suffer from, e.g., autism or ADHD, resulting in concentration difficulties, loss of reality, or hyperactivity. Our awareness usually sticks to one point, leaving the fabled multi-tasking ad-absurdum. We consciously handle one thing at a time and blank out the rest until we turn our awareness elsewhere and lose sight of the previously perceived case.
  • The filtered consciousness
    Not only is our perception filtered, but details are also omitted. Our consciousness would be overstrained to assimilate ALL details. Therefore, we work with mental models, metaprograms, and analogies. They relieve the storage by linking already existing patterns with the current observations. We add the most salient novelty to our ideas. In doing so, already stored contents are sometimes erroneously related to the observed happening. We know this from witnesses of accidents who provide divergent opinions regarding the course of events, the people involved, and other descriptions of the incident.
  • The Unattainable Unknown
    Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” Similarly, our conceptions represent the limits of our perception. We overlook circumstances because we do not know them. This blind spot arises from the rejection of specific facts – here, everyone is treated equally; we do not bully. This veiling occurs when those involved cannot, are not allowed to, or do not want to let go of their prejudices, or if they lack the imagination – our cars can only run on non-renewable fuels; employees need someone to tell them what to do. If we cannot recognize something, we describe it with generalities – this is like …; it resembles …; the thing is …
  • The limiting horizon
    In addition, our view only extends as far as to the personal horizon – differently in a group without realizing it. Looking over the edge requires additional effort. To see behind it, we have to go in the desired direction. At the same time, the horizon is shifting, and facts are disappearing as a result. If we stand by the sea, we can see four kilometers far. A monster wave can already build up directly behind the line of sight, which will flood our beach without warning.
  • The infinite number of vantage points
    All previous aspects concern the point of view of individuals. In a team, we broaden our vantage point. Several people complement each other. A typical SWAT team approaches a threat with one person monitoring the front and another the rear area. A group can observe more aspects, enabling more significant collaborative insights than individual observations. The different experiences and perceptions of the dynamic personalities allow more permeable filters. What is otherwise unknown to some can jointly be used through a timely exchange. Eventually, several people create a joint extended horizon by skillfully distributing the individuals and regularly exchanging their observations.
    However, there are ALWAYS more angles than are described.

Bottom line: We need to be aware that we are trapped in our perspectives, no matter how far we expand them. Our biological and rational limitations can be extended by opening up additional perspectives as a team. It is especially true in the VUKA world, where individual angles are volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. We need to let loose the belief in one truth. Any contribution, whether from within our group or from outside, can make the difference that makes a difference. We only persist in the VUKA world if we are open to rethinking at any time – based on new insights and events. With all the expansions of the range of vision and the abilities to adapt to changing circumstances, we should not forget that we always remain caught in perspective.