Picture of Stephan van Rooden

Stephan van Rooden

How to describe color to a blind person, or anything new to the unaware?


Have you ever tried to describe or teach something new to a colleague or client and although you know from experience it is great you get a reaction like:

“That doesn’t work in our organization? Our organization is different.”

“That sounds nice in theory, but in real-life that will never work?”

“We have always done it that way, there is no other way. We tried is before.”

Did someone ever say anything like this to you? I know how you feel, probably something like this…or this.

Finding common ground

Sometimes during my training courses I see people struggling when I introduce them to a new concept or new idea.  And I know, it is quite a shock if you hear something  which is completely different from what you are used to or have ever seen before. Introducing a different way of working or removing processes and replacing them principles. It is unfamiliar and difficult wrap your head around. Often this ends in a Q&A where this person or organization will overload you with question where they are looking to connect the new elements to something they know.

“The functional requirements, do I still need to write them down?”, “ What about my weekly meeting with my employees, do I still need that?” “ What about our project managers, where do they fit in” etc…

In my courses, I work together with them to see if I can connect some elements from their current perspective to the newly introduced perspective. Preferable I look into some of the challenges they face or workarounds they have embraced as the status quo. I try to find a common language we both understand and can relate to and see where we go from there. Sometimes that is extremely hard and frustrating because to me, this new concept is common sense and this voice in my head screams: “Why can’t they just understand, it makes perfect sense!”

Describe color to a blind person

A while ago, I stumbled upon this great video where children are asked to explain colors to a blind person. And this moved me. All of a sudden I understand how difficult it is if you have never seen anything like it before, to understand what it is.

[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK94B9VcDyU” ]

During XP days last year,  I hosted an exploration session on a new concept called ‘The Company of Owners’. I selected this group because of their openness for new ideas. Even introducing this concept to this group, raised a lot of questions and concerns which led to publishing an article about this concept together with Susanne van Dijk. I am really curious on your thoughts about it. Where do you see the common ground with what you already know?


More to explore

Fixing the Broken Feedback Loop

Quoting the great and inspiring philosopher Steven Seagal; “Assumption is the mother of all f*ck ups!” This is something I see Product