When we hear the word spectrum, we think of something related to light; the range of colors that we are able to visualize. We know that what is visible to humans is not the entire spectrum, but that we only see visible light, or a really small portion of a larger electromagnetic spectrum. The method of identification used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points1 is a spectrum.
As indicated by the diagram below, the portion of the full electromagnetic spectrum associated with what we can see (the visible portion of the spectrum) is a relatively small portion of the whole. The full electomagnetic spectrum includes gamma, X-ray, ultraviolet, visible, infrared, micro and radio waves all of which have the potential to expand our understanding and knowledge about our environment that we otherwise would not see or hear.
This is where technology comes into play. Applying technology, we use X-rays to expand our visiblity and, ultimately, create a better view or understanding of, say, a medical situation. With ultraviolet technology we expand our visibility, and our understanding, into other parts of the spectrum, say, a forensic analysis of chemicals at a crime scene.
The same concepts apply to radio waves. We know that by utilizing a receiver, amplifier and speakers we hear radio waves that are constantly around us, but wouldn’t otherwise be available to us without the use of that technology. Another example is the dog whistle that functions beyond human ears’ (receivers) capability to hear, but is obviously heard by our canine friends. Yet, knowing it’s there we utilize that knowledge to listen to radio broadcasts, speak with others with walkie-talkies or help train and communicate with our “best friends.” So, what does all of this science have to do with leadership? Here’s what I’m proposing.
As leaders, we perform many activities with some of the most significant activities focused on making decisions. To make effective decisions we need as much input as can be gathered and analyzed before we make the decision. The question we should always ask is, “Do I have all the information I can obtain about the options before I make the decision?” Do I have the full spectrum of information at my disposal or am I seeing, hearing, reading (smelling?) only a portion of the information spectrum?
Many innovation courses advocate divergent thinking, that concept of opening up one’s thinking to the full range of possibilities and options available, as an integral part of a decision-making process. This applies to product and service creation, problem solving, continuous improvement and many other aspects of our lives, both personal and professional. There’s the story of the child who, while toddling around, could see the underside of a windowsill. To all the adults in the room, the window looked well maintained. From her point of view, she could see the underside of the windowsill was left unpainted.
We need to embrace a process that helps us identify all possibilities, options and points of view – the full spectrum. It’s not until you’ve given some thought to all possibilities, regardless of how unlikely, or how uncomfortable or how undesirable an option may be to you as a solution that you can feel your decision process has considered all possible options. This should help you feel your decision is the right one and can be explained, justified and supported.
Mr. Garrow has over forty years of IT experience in several industries. As a 20+ year veteran of the hospitality and gaming industry, Mr. Garrow served as Chief Information Officer in the management teams at Mohegan Sun, Turning Stone Casino, the Choctaw Casinos and, most recently, Baha Mar in the Bahamas. While at Mohegan Sun, he was nominated and selected as an inaugural member of the Nation’s Top 100 CIOs by ComputerWorld magazine. He has served for the last ten years as the facilitator of the annual G&L Roundtable in Las Vegas and received the inaugural G&L Phil Labelle Life-Time Achievement Award. Most recently Mr. Garrow joined the Board of Advisors of Virtual Procurement Services after gaining international experience in the Bahamas while working on the development of the Baha Mar resort. Mr. Garrow is a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe of northern New York and was the first Native American to be promoted to the ranks of CIO in the hospitality and gaming industry.