The Question

There is a question I would like to present to you. What is more important to have in a group setting: a common vision or diversified perspectives?

I feel somewhat ambivalent about this question. As to the first question, I believe a group should be unified and working towards achieving the same mission. Therefore, I believe a group should share a common vision.

However, to accomplish the vision, there would certainly need to be a diversity of talents. Thus, there would need to be different perspectives.

Take a small startup business for instance. Let’s say there are four total employees including a CEO, a salesperson, an accountant, and an administrative assistant. Each one of these people possesses a very specific and focused skill set. Each person will view the very same situation from a different perspective. If they launch a new product, here is how it could appear from each perspective:

  • CEO: Did we choose the right market? Is the timing right? Will there be demand?
  • Salesperson: How many units could I actually sell in a given month? Will I have repeat customers? Is this a one-time purchase or a periodical purchase?
  • Accountant: Did we properly itemize each expense in the design and production of this item? Did we properly forecast revenues for the next quarter? Will the online store be accurate in sales, so I can enter the proper sales each period?
  • Administrative Assistant: What days will the CEO be available for interviews concerning the new product? Should I book the CEO’s travel arrangements for the upcoming trade show? How will this product affect our business? I wonder if we will be able to hire any new staff if the product sells well.

Education

And, how does this relate to education?

There is a direct application to education. Consider the previous blog article on this site called “Leading in Learning”. In this article, it was discussed as to how teachers should first believe in and encourage their students. And, in combination to this focus, they should also develop a vision and goals for the course/s they are teaching. Then, they should establish a plan to accomplish this vision and meet these goals. Finally, they should work each day to work the plan and make it happen.

Using this concept of vision and goals in a classroom, go back to the question I first presented. What is more important: a common vision or diversified perspectives?

The Classroom Environment

In a classroom environment, there must be a common vision just like any business, organization, or group would have a common vision. Typically, these would be the learning objectives. In a classroom, though, the concept of diversified perspectives is slightly different than the workplace. We aren’t referring to different positions within a company. Rather, we are referring to different majors of study. I’ll explain.

  • Business: In a corporate setting, the overall vision is established, and every employee uses his or her position and talents to accomplish it. So, diversification is as wide as the scope of employees working in the organization. And, regardless of the position, each person is working to accomplish the vision by doing his or her role extremely well.
  • Education: In a classroom, the overall vision is established, and every student views and works toward the vision from the perspective of their major of study and talents. So, in a classroom, everyone is charged with meeting every part of the vision (the learning outcomes). Everyone needs to finish the class knowing all of the outcomes. It is not accomplished by individual effort achieving specific parts of the vision. It is accomplished by individual effort and group motivation, so everyone can accomplish each part of the vision.

So, where does the motivation begin?

For instance, in an English writing course, each student will view the vision and the accompanying assignments through the lens of their major and their talents. An accounting student will view a persuasive essay different than a pre-law student. A nursing student will view a process essay different than chemistry major even if process is important to them both.

In the following video, Adam Grant dives into a specific example of how different perspectives affected a potential investment he was asked to make. He shares some interesting views on perspectives. 

The Cultivation

As a teacher, let me encourage you to allow this to happen. I feel it is positive to cultivate these different views and have the class share them with each other. By allowing the students to share their perspectives on certain learning objectives and assignments, you allow for multidimensional learning to occur. Imagine an accounting student hearing how a persuasive essay is being viewed from twelve other majors, for instance. Their outlook on the assignment is now more comprehensive. Value can be established with certain learning objectives that otherwise would not be present.

In addition, you are better preparing them for the workplace. One day, our hope is that these students will be professionals working in the fields in which they are studying. By opening their minds now to different perspectives of certain objectives, it will prepare them for the same type of thought processing when they enter the workplace. An accounting student seeing how a business management student views credits and debits will prepare them for how their potential supervisor may one day view their work as an accountant. It is truly real-world preparation.

Essentially, the subject of a common vision with diversified perspectives allows the student to learn critical thinking, open-mindedness, teamwork, and cooperation.

Now, let’s return to the question posed at the beginning of this article. What is more important between a common vision and diversified perspectives?

Synonymous

From my perspective, I believe both are synonymous. It takes one to go with the other. Thus, they are equally important. And, they are not just important. Common visions in conjunction with diversified perspectives need to be addressed and discussed in our learning environments. Our students need this level of thought processing for their success now as students and for their future success as productive employees.

— Brent