Evolutionary Leadership

Expertise is Nice, Perspectertise is Essential

I’ve hired lawyers, tax lawyers, trust tax lawyers, trust tax litigation lawyers, Delaware state trust tax litigation lawyers… all for their expertise. But none of them could give me something I needed in the course of an unpleasant family litigation that dragged on for seven years.


Expertise is zooming in. Perspective is zooming out.

We seem to value zooming in, like we’re going to somehow unlock the mysteries of life, our problems, or the universe if we zoom in far enough – the knowledge of what one of my clients called the “little, little details” that we hope will make all the difference, at some point.

We spend many billions to zoom in: analyze data in real-time to deliver an experience based on individual click-through behavior based on past buying history and demographic profile. In pursuit of power, we drill into finer detail, more information, more nuance, more segmentation, separation, clustering, analysis, and on and on.

We even spent $9 billion to build the Large Hadron Collider, which zooms in on the nature of matter by an increment so small, it’s almost impossible to describe.

It takes a lot of expertise to deal with that level of detail. And to hire the special special specialist in exactly the right field and sub-discipline costs a lot of money. And if they are good, they are worth it, to get that tiny edge…

But we don’t value zooming out so much – even though as society we designate CEO’s, presidents and a few other leader-generalists, we tend to value them for their specialized management of experts, and not as much for their perspective.

Sitting back, taking in the big picture, noticing the obvious features, getting the lay of the land – that’s been for newbies, just a step in the direction toward their specialty.

I say, enough! We NEED PERSPECTIVE.

Life needs perspective, and lots of it. Business needs perspective. Politics needs perspective. Everything is in a context, but we often pretend like it isn’t.

In fact, pretending we are not in a context is the disease of our times. We all act as though we are independent players acting on an unchanging field, when in fact we ARE the field, and it changes very much, thank you!

I’m really good at perspective—people I respect ask me to believe I am one of the best in the world. I’m a perspectert.

An ugly word, but when most people are zoomed-in, I’ve got to get through somehow.

Anyone want some great perspective? I promise it will help what ails you – exhaustion of the spirit.

About the Author: Nathan Otto

Nathan Otto collaborates for a better world by engaging leaders for better, more effective leadership. He is the co-founder of Holometrics, a strategic consulting ecosystem and technology company which scientifically measures organizational alignment with key objectives and values.
He is the founder of the Safe Conflict Project, a global strategic effort to create a world free from war. He is the co-author of Give Peace a Deadline: What Ordinary People Can Do to Create Peace In Five Years.

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