The Gardener's Perspective

In the realm of engineering, perspective is not just a lens through which we view the world; it’s a critical tool that shapes our approach to problem-solving, innovation, and team collaboration. Recently I made the observation that there are three distinct perspectives that engineers tend to adopt.

The Gardener’s Perspective

  1. The first gardener is focused solely on planting seeds.
  2. The second is concerned with tending the entire garden.
  3. The third is envisioning the community enjoying the beauty and fruits of the garden.

Each gardener has a unique perspective that influences their approach to the task at hand and the level of importance they attach to their work. It is obvious that all three perspectives are essential to the success of the garden, but they are not always aligned.

The Friction Between Different Perspectives

The first gardener may feel frustrated that the others are not as meticulous about planting seeds. The second might be annoyed that the first is too narrow in focus, while the third may feel that the others lack vision. This friction is not unlike what we often see in engineering teams, where specialists, generalists, and visionaries must coexist.

Bridging the Gap

Merely having this observation does not solve any problems and I cannot stand an incomplete thought. So, I have been thinking about how to bridge the gap between these perspectives. I believe that the answer lies in the following:

  1. Open Dialogue: Encourage open discussions where each “gardener” can express their perspective. Understanding is the first step toward bridging the gap in perspectives.
  2. Role Flexibility: Allow team members to occasionally switch roles. The seed-focused gardener might gain a broader perspective by tending to the entire garden for a day. And the visionary might gain a deeper appreciation for the work that goes into planting seeds.
  3. Shared Vision: Establish a shared vision that aligns with the goals of each gardener. This could be a mission statement or a project roadmap that everyone contributes to.
  4. Mentorship and Training: Facilitate mentorship programs where the different “gardeners” can learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, as each team will have its own unique dynamics. However, recognizing the different perspectives and the value they bring to the table is the first step toward bridging the gap.