You are Blind to Change

In his book, Only the Paranoid Survive, Andrew Grove writes, “The lesson is, we all need to expose ourselves to the winds of change”.

What he was referring to how easy it is to get comfortable. How easy it is to get complacent. How easy it is to miss that someone is eating your lunch.

Max Bazerman researched this topic in his the book, The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders SeeMax explains,

Research on change blindness documents the striking degree to which we fail to notice information in our environment. Unfortunately some of the information we miss is important, even critical. And much of this failure occurs not with physical information that we should be able to see with our eyes but with changes in economic conditions, changes in unemployment rates, changes in medical conditions, and so forth. Even people in society who are charged with noticing often fail to do so…….One important hint from Simons and Chabris’s research is that we are particularly unlikely to notice a change when it occurs gradually.

In other words, we’re particularly blind to the slippery slope.

Sometimes you do have to sweat the small things because those small things, add up to major changes.

 

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  • No doubt. Great leaders have are aware – particularly of how they and their work products are perceived. This awareness is not always innate; great leaders turn to others to help them “see” past blind spots.

    • Roger,

      Thanks for the comment and really good point!

      Things are often moving fast and too complex to be aware of everything that is going on. Being able to trust others to keep you informed of what is really happening is huge. The opposite is a culture that hides information and only presents a positive picture no matter what is really happening.

  • Adriana Beal

    Joshua, I haven’t read Bozeman’s book, so I don’t know if he addresses the “how” of not becoming blind to change, but Liz Wiseman has a book that offers good answers: Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work. In it, Wiseman explains how, in times of uncertainty and in situations that demand innovation, a “rookie mindset” can be the secret to avoiding blind spots, and shares valuable tactics to get there (turning to others, as Roger suggested, is a critical one, but there are other things that can be very useful too, which she details in the book).