Using points of view and frame of reference to find out why people see the same reality differently.

Our aim in this post is to present at a high level a model that can visually depict areas of disagreement between at least two people reviewing the same reality. This model is plotting the same reality from different points of view (using a different color per person) by capturing location, time and sequence of events. Because the ratio between locations or sequence needs to be the same from any point of view, the model plot all points of view and then removes parallel lines. Any non-parallel line depicts different perceptions of the same reality.

We created this model because it is common to hear a different version of the same reality from several people, but we couldn’t find any visual way to depict the area of disagreement and to get a more firm understanding what are the disagreements and what causes them. The last two are crucial for decision making.

There are two challenges. The first one is that people will see the sequence of events, where they took place and when they took place differently. The second is that people will not use the same coordinate system to capture their point of views. Each one of those challenges makes it hard to see where people are related to each other’s regarding a sequence of events that describe the same reality.

First, let’s set the same coordinates. The simple solution is to use two dimensions diagram. The Y axile depicts time, while the X depicts the sequence of events. In some scenarios, locations should be added to the mix as the Z axile. Always prefer the 2D diagram over the 3D one, but keep the 3D in mind. In some scenarios, we found ourselves using the 3D version as the 2D failed to depict the different points of view. I’ll continue the post from a 2D reference. Everything that works for the 2D, will work for the 3D, it just harder to see and required more complicated math.


Second, we are capturing each time one person points of view. It means that the point of view holder line is a vertical line on the Y axile. All the events are capture relative to the captured person. This depicts his point of view. It’s better if all people can agree on the events, but see differently sequence, location and time. If they can disagree on the events, including the events that everyone mentioned. One of the agreed events should be the zero value on the X axile (sequence reference). It’s OK if there are negative values. Each point of view can have a different event as the zero on the X.

Once you have a 2D or 3D model, you can plot events in a certain sequence and time (and location if you have to do 3D) that one describes the action of a participant in the captured reality. Each participant should be a line that depicts how it is seen by the point of view holder. Make sure you are not ending up with over 5 lines. A jungle of lines will not be helpful. Use one color for each point of view and use different line styles (dots, dash, strait, etc’) to depict different actors.

After creating all points of view, plot them on one diagram and remove all parallel lines. What you left with is the disagreements between people on the same reality. You can see visually the event sequence and time per each participant, so it’s easy to see discrepancies.

3 different points of view
Different points of view of 3 people

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