‘That’s What Binoculars Looking
Binoculars looking should feel like discovering … scenic
overlooks. In binoculars looking you simultaneously
assume a vantage point and notice a scene worth taking
more time to survey.
Following are some examples of binoculars looking:
A keynote speaker for a conference in Vancouver, British
Columbia, shared with meeting organizers [his] plans to
explore the city on his own before the next day’s talk. The
downtown council for the city got wind of this and wanted
to make sure the visiting keynoter had an opportunity
to survey Vancouver from a distance before hitting the
streets. So, immediately after arriving by commercial
airline ;light, the speaker was whisked o; for a private
helicopter tour of the entire metropolitan area, complete
with a guide pointing out various neighborhoods and landmarks. That’s what binoculars looking looks like: It provides
a big-picture overview for whatever looking is to follow.
A design ;irm wants to identify new merchandising and
display concepts for one of its major retail clients. Its
designers visit Las Vegas and trek the entire length of the
Strip, surveying the hotel registration lobbies and indoor
shopping corridors of every hotel-casino resort in order to
identify locations worth revisiting to study in greater detail.
That’s what binoculars looking looks like: It scans all options
before committing to examining any one in more depth.
A tourist with limited time to take in an art museum grabs
and scans a facility map, then surveys each special exhibit
and permanent installation before deciding where to circle
back to spend more time. That’s what binoculars looking
looks like: It helps set priorities for the overall e;ort.
Excerpted from Look: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Observational
Skills, by James H. Gilmore. Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press. © 2016.
How might an event organizer use each
looking function to better observe attendee behavior and improve the overall
participant experience — from making
improvements on the ;ly during the event
to envisioning a better future conference?
The looking glasses can indeed be used
both in the moment, to see operational
elements to be attended to, as you put it,
on the fly — as well as to gather insights
for future experience design. In both
cases, the first step is to be aware of the
need to observe. What thinking should
drive any improvement e;orts — pre-existing ideas in one’s mind, or insights
gained by looking at what is actually
happening? Devote time for looking
— to inform one’s thinking. Then with
that time, use the six looking glasses.
Choose a particular lens, and then use it
to employ a particular way of looking.
In Look, I provide examples and
exercises to practice each way of looking. And I also discuss how to use
various looking routines — formal
sequences of looking glasses — as well
as how to conduct multi-stop looking
excursions. Regardless of the method,
the key is to recognize observation as a
key task to perform, in and of itself.
Are participants who are engaged at a
conference using a particular looking
glass already, without realizing it? For
example, might listening to speakers and
having conversations with fellow attendees help to overcome personal bias?
Absolutely. As I said, we should be led
at events to see our businesses and ourselves anew. And certainly, in any waking moment, we all use our eyes. But do
we really see? The practical benefit of
the Six Looking Glasses tool is to realize
there is a world to see, and to deliberately, consciously, skillfully become
more engaged in it. We might look this
way or that way already, and we all
do indeed have personal preferences
with what and how we choose to look.
Psychologists call it confirmation bias.
Bifocal looking specifically addresses