Do you know the difference between wrong and different?
When I first became an editorial manager, it took me a while to realize how subjective editing can be. The fact is if I ask 15 editors to revise an essay, I’ll get back 15 versions, each uniquely worded by the person who did the work.
Allowing that no mistakes were made, not one of the revised versions would be exactly as any other. Possibly even more important, not one of those revisions would be exactly I would do it. The choices made by other editors weren’t wrong. They simply were different from how I would do it.
It can be disconcerting when we ask for help or delegate work and what we get is something other than we expected, a different solution than ours would have been. But, if we’re willing to stop for a moment and consider the new approach on its own merit, we’re likely to find that what separates the two is how we were taught to do it or what we personally prefer.
Old recordings in our head tend to tell us that being different is wrong. We search for the answer our teacher wants us to parrot. We’re supposed dress like, and act like, our peer group. Don’t buy it!
What makes each of us valuable is the difference we bring to the table. When someone brings you something different than you expect, do all you can to understand the new solution. You might just find that the new solution solves the problem in a more interesting way. If new solution doesn’t suit your intended purpose, still do all you can to express respect for the new solution before you set it aside. Leaving room for other solutions opens the door to learning those new tricks old dogs aren’t supposed to be able to learn
.… And when you have a different solution, don’t seek disruption, but find a low-stress opportunity to ask about trying it. Bring your idea gently, but please bring your difference. We need it.
Put Your Mind to It
The next time someone brings you a solution that’s different from what you expected, try to catch yourself before you show them the right way to do it. Instead, ask that person why they chose to do the task as they did. You might find the thinking behind their method is stronger than the thinking behind the way you do it.