ARE BLIND SPOTS CRIPPLING YOUR BUSINESS?
Do you text while you drive? Of course you don’t, because you know that you could be killed if you take your eyes off the road. You could miss blind spots, and not even know you missed them, until it’s too late.
In business, you don’t need to be texting to miss facts that can be critical to surviving, or to winning. Our research confirms that business blind spots are everywhere. They can suck the life out of momentum, creativity, and purpose. They are business killers.
Where are the blind spots in your business and what can you do to protect against them? To find out, here are the steps for you and your leadership team to take right now. You will learn:
1. What a blind spot is.
2. Why blind spots matter.
3. How to find your own blind spots.
4. How to prevent damage, both to you and to your organization.
An experienced psychiatrist, having difficulty with a patient’s treatment, sought help from another psychiatrist. He resumed the patient’s treatment successfully. A psychiatrist helps patients to see their blind spots. What helped the doctor get unstuck? The other psychiatrist pointed out his own blind spot, which kept him from seeing what was going on with the patient. If blind spots can trip up a highly trained physician, why are you immune?
WHAT’S A BLIND SPOT? Look at the diagram at the top right and follow the instructions.( refer to companion image at the top right)
Now, close your left eye and stare at the plus sign in the diagram with your right eye. Off to the right notice the spot but don’t look at it. Notice that it is there off to the right. If it’s not, move farther away from the computer screen; you should be able to see the dot if you’re a couple of feet away. Now slowly move toward the computer screen. Keep looking at the plus sign while you move. At about a foot away the spot will disappear. It will reappear when you move closer. The spot disappears because it falls on the optic nerve head, the hole in the photoreceptor sheet of your eye. So you have a pretty big blind spot, but you don’t see it! When the spot disappears you still don’t see a hole. What you see instead is a continuous white field. Remember not to look at the plus sign; if you do you’ll see the spot instead.
What you see is something the brain is making up, since the eye isn’t actually telling the brain anything at all about that particular part of the picture. © Serendip 1994- 2012
WHY BLIND SPOTS MATTER
One of the companies I worked with, a substantial 20-year-old firm, increased sales 47% year over year by erasing blind spots in one area. The key: Daily quick order review by the heads of production, engineering, supply chain and sales. Someone usually saw answers that the others had missed.
Blinds spots are especially dangerous for leaders, causing these problems:
· Missing problem-solving essentials such as facts, critical concerns, and root cause.
· Corrupting employee commitment: “It doesn’t matter; she can’t see it anyway.”
· Preventing excellence.
· Creating huge waste: missed opportunities, poor processes.
· Driving away customers with poor service and weak answers.
· Shrinking profit.
FIND LEADERSHIP BLIND SPOTS HERE
Do any of these common organizational blind spots look familiar?
- Tuning out changes in customers, suppliers and employees.
- “My two key people and I have done this for years. We know what to do, and a budget or a plan won’t help us much.”
- Over-investing in machines; under-investing in people.
- Over-using overtime to avoid hiring.
- Leaving loyal people in jobs they can’t do any more.
- Ruling out outside expert help as “expensive and unnecessary.”
- Trying to improve too many things at once.
- Telling employees as little as possible, “so competition or the union won’t hurt us.”
- Cutting too soon and too much when sales slump, instead of balancing cuts and getting additional cash to get through the slump. Deep cuts destroy much of a firm’s competitive advantage and recovery can take years.
- Confusing technical knowledge with leadership ability.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
If we could talk about blind spots comfortably, like buying gas for the car, they’d do far less damage. But it’s hard.
- Subordinates don’t want to tell the leader where he or she is lacking.
- Blind spots are elusive, and fade with memory.
- Even when others point them out, we’d rather hear the bad news later.
What you can do: Open up your blind spots to ramp up your performance:
1. Learn more about your own blind spots and start compensating for them.
2. Get a Wingman: Ask someone you trust to spot your blind spots, and to tell you right away.
3. Say “thank you,” to encourage others to help you.
4. Manage your blind spots: They won’t go away, but they are manageable.
5. Ask your key leadership team to help each other.
What your teams can do: Try these performance-boosting tools:
1. Blind Spot Finder: Help teams make blind spots O.K. to talk about.
a. Each team member gets one piece of paper for each team member, e.g., for a team of 5, each person receives 5 sheets of paper.
b. Put one team member’s name at the top of each page.
c. On each person’s page: List 1-3 blind spots for that person.
d. Each person reviews his or her own blind spot sheet, picks three blind spots to work on, and posts each to his or her personal blind spot list.
2. Wingman: Pair off into accountability teams. Share each other’s blind spot lists. The wingman will be the prime person to point out a blind spot action when it occurs.
3. Team Blind Spot Light-up: At every meeting, each person writes his or her three blind spots on the white board so that team members can help identify them when they happen.
4. One-on-One: Review progress in 1-on-1 meetings.
5. Company Flashlight: Shine the light on blind spots company-wide.
6. Quick Blind Spot Check: Review your latest customer ratings in a management team meeting. Where the ratings are poor, make a note when you decide that it’s “an isolated instance.” Then dig a bit; it might be a blind spot!
1. Every leader and every organization has blind spots.
2. Ignoring blind spots is like texting while driving: an invitation to disaster.
3. A wingman is the most enduring way to cut the power of blind spots.
4. Talk about blind spots. They’ll shrink.
5. Light up blind spots to ramp up everyone’s performance.
It’s hard to see your own blind spots. As a leader, a big part of your job is to know what’s really going on. You wouldn’t drive with your eyes shut (unless you’re 16); why would you try to lead that way?
© 2013 Jim Grew. All Rights Reserved.
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