Multiple perspectives

Revealing and discussing different perspectives to see problems from other viewpoints

There are often multiple relevant perspectives within an integrated research project. Understanding these can help us decide who we need to work with and can help us see the problem from other points of view.

This exercise is best done in a workshop setting. It works best in groups of 6-8 people, so if there are more than that, work in separate groups.

Write the problem or issue on a card and place on the table. Each person then considers the issue from your own perspective and explains this to the group "from my perspective as an XYZ, the critical elements of this issue are ABC".

Then brainstorm a list of possible stakeholders for the problem you are exploring. Write these on cards. Distribute one card each. Ask each member to reflect on the following questions for 5 minutes and then describe their understanding of the issue from the perspective of the stakeholder on the card to the rest of the group.

These are some questions that can help us consider the issue from another perspective:

What is the time-frame I am relating to? When did I become aware of the issue? When will it effectively become a non-issue for me?
What do I expect to happen if the situation continues as current? What do I hope to happen? Who expects me to deal with this? What do they want me to do?
How closely as I willing to examine this problem? From how far away do I see the problem? What else is connected to the problem as I see it?
What do I see about the problem that no one else sees? What is my understanding of the problem? What is my understanding of the problem based on?

A facilitator makes notes on a white board on the issues and separately, any overlaps or opportunities that emerged for the project.

Once each person has had their turn, reshuffle cards and repeat, at least three times so people explore different perspectives

Now, as a team, you can talk through the situation from each perspective after you have reviewed the flipcharts for each perspective and ideas for leverage.

Finally, reflect on the exercise by asking questions such as:

  1. What are similarities and what are differences?
  2. What did you learn from the other perspectives?
  3. How can that inform our research?

More information

The Wheel of Multiple perspectives. The MSP guide: How to design and facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships

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