Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

For Problem Solving, Turn it Upside Down

In the construction industry, one usually finds “left-brained” thinkers, people who tend towards the analytic and objective. Bruce Adams, a part of our senior management, is one who also exercises his “right brain,” being a talented artist.

Recently, he was telling me a process he uses for still life paintings. When he finishes his sketch, prior to applying brush strokes, he looks at the canvas upside down. At that point the sketch becomes simple lines, shapes and forms, instead of a coherent painting.

Bruce showed me the rough draft of the painting above. The glass jar has just been laid in and appears somewhat correct when viewing right side up. However, when the picture is viewed upside down, it’s easier to see that the bottle is lopsided. The change in perspective paves the way for a correction.

To me, this is similar to conflict discussions. It might be a good idea to take a moment–and a deep breath or two, at times–and look at the situation from the other opposite perspective. Maybe we learn something when we take our view and “turn it upside down.”


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.