I recently read the comment 'all managers scan'. True enough, but the scanning they do could be considered passive (in the main anyway). In essence managers 'keep their antennae up to receive outside signals' when they are reading, watching television, listening to the radio or a speaker at a conference that they choose. 

Because the medium has been chosen by the manager as worthy of investing some of their time, then the data they are receiving is mostly likely coming from either familiar or traditional sources therefore this mode of scanning tends to only reinforce rather than challenge their beliefs and paradigms.  Managers don’t' tend to actively go in search of information to challenge their paradigm or way of thinking. As Workforce Planners we too are managers, so the above impacts us in two ways:

  • Firstly, because we Environment Scan; and 
  • Secondly, because managers are our clients, audience and partners. 
In converting the message above for us as Environment Scanners, we need to constantly challenge what our antenna is picking up. Consciously reading articles, magazines, web-site you would not normally read is a start. Yes, technically this could be a good excuse to read the Gossip mags in the queue at the supermarket (I confess I use Scanning as my justification for doing that) but I am thinking more of something like reading Wired or New Scientist, or the e-zine Online Opinions or listening to a talk-back radio on a topic that you would normally switch of or watching 15 minutes of a show that you wouldn’t normally.  These are all great ways in which to broaden your lens, your world-view.

Now we need to help our managers to do the same. Of course here we want to do it in a way that is not too confronting and challenging. The most tried and true process is by using benchmarking or better practice as a way of validating some new concepts. Another technique could be to provide some pretty solid, safe content and just position one or two 'stretch' components, some concepts that may at first seem a little out there. It is funny how often though 95% of a document is standard fare, it is the 5% that is little 'off centre' that will attract the bulk of the discussion/comments. This isn't for the feint hearted, but it’s a great way to challenge paradigms. Have you got any techniques or stories to share about how you challenged your managers’ paradigms?--