Make It Happen Tipsheet
Translating Knowledge to Action

Zoom Lens

How do you solve problems? One way to do so is to use a zoom lens.

If you're like most people, at one time or another you've played around with a zoom lens. When you zoom out as much as you can, you see just about everything: you have an overview. Zoom in a bit, and each object becomes distinct; you see the components of the problem. Zoom in to the max, and it is like using a microscope: every minute detail takes on great importance. Zooming out gives you a top-down view; max zooming in gives you a bottom-up view of the problem.

Of course, with a maximum zoom, you lose the overview, but this isn't the only problem. No matter how much (or how little) you zoom, your perspective is always the same. A photographer who uses a zoom lens to take a picture of a building will never know what is on the other side unless they shift their perspective. And similarly, looking at a problem from someone else's perspective is the only way to see the situation... from their perspective. (Truly great problem solving requires both zooming and shifting.)

This week's action plan: Shifting and Zooming can be used to solve problems, but it can also be used whenever you write. This week, before you send an important email, blog, or Tweet, consider if you can make a stronger point if you zoomed in or out, or shifted your perspective.

Writing note: Did I use shifting and zooming in this simple post? The metaphor of the lens probably helped you visualize the concept more effectively. In addition, the post is written in the second person (you), not first person (I), shifting the perspective to someone who you are more interested in (eg yourself).


Randall Craig is an expert on Social Media Strategy and Social Media Policy; to find out how his workshops, webinars, and keynotes can help your team or add to your event, contact him through, or by email at

Make It Happen Tipsheet
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Copyright © 2010 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved.
Publication Date: September 14, 2010

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