My 5-year-old son is very determined. When he decides something should be a certain way, everything had better go according to plan. If it doesn’t, he’s furious.

Getting him to see the situation differently can be challenging. During one of his recent tantrums, however, I had an idea. I marched into his room and ordered him to stand on his head. Caught completely off-guard, he complied, using the wall as a brace. A few seconds later, he was giggling. The world looked different from that angle, his former plans less concrete. He had gained a new perspective.

It’s an approach that could benefit many of us. All too often, we tend to make plans and develop strategies based on how we think business should happen. Then something changes--a new technology takes hold, the economy stutters, a new competitor emerges--and we’re left feeling frustrated, unsure of how to respond. At the recent SPAR International conference in Houston (click here) and in POB’s annual Salary & Benefits Study (click here), a common theme is that the traditional ways of viewing the surveying and mapping professions are no longer adequate. A new perspective is needed.

Fortunately, you won’t need to stand on your head to use the smartphone tool we’re now including in every issue of POB. According to a report from Nielsen Co., 28 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers were using smartphones by the third quarter of 2010, and that use is expected to grow exponentially through 2011. It’s no surprise that the use of mobile tags and QR codes--2D barcodes that link consumers to additional content--is also expanding. These digital graphics have been cropping up in some interesting places lately, from building permits to business cards to personal tattoos … and yes, even surveying equipment. (Topcon Positioning Systems recently announced plans to put mobile tags on all its products in the future.)

Far more than a mere marketing gimmick, these tags are useful tools that can enhance information-gathering and improve productivity. I would bet that even some surveying firms are finding ways to integrate tags in their deliverables. Although you won’t need to be upside down to use them, you may want to flip the idea around in your mind for awhile to think of some innovative ways to apply them.

Technology is turning everything on its head. Follow suit, and you may be surprised what ideas you come up with.

Share your thoughts on this column To contact the editor, send an e-mail