Nick Powills: In Business, Finding the Collective Blind Spot Will Help You Win
Nick Powills: In Business, Finding the Collective Blind Spot Will Help You Win

Questions – both inside your head and posed to others – are the best way to find answers and predict blind spots.

Yes, it is called a blind spot for a reason – often something that is clearly there, yet you can’t see it. Thus, finding it may be a challenge. Yet, if you can empower your team to openly and honestly discussing not only your business’s but each other’s blind spots – the productiveness of that conversation can lead to a better prediction of what you will have to overcome as a business.

Let’s start with blind spots in business. They come from two sources – internal and external.

Internally, these are challenges likely found within culture, people and process. Culturally, blind spots can be found within pockets of cancer, leadership gaps and whether or not happiness is meeting expectations. How can you address each of these? Start with dialog.

I have often said that the answers to many of your problems can be found right in front of your eyes, as the blind spots are sitting in the minds of your people. If you were to set-up a safe culture or pockets of safeness within your management circles, you can extract the blind spots. Likely, though, that’s just half the battle; the other half is putting in solves to weaken the blind spot, expose the weakness and create a winning outcome.

Pockets of cancer are created when you have someone who has gone from frustrated to disgruntled who is then likely stirring the pot by saying the business sucks. Likely, these people are failing miserably at meeting the expectations of the job and are using their ill behavior as a mask for their own insecurities, but nonetheless, cancer within the business can seriously suck. However, cancerous teammates are not necessarily the biggest issue, as they often don’t have the bandwidth to be talked off the ledge. The ones who are the most dangerous to the business are those on the cusp – the ones who are not overly positive and not overly negative. These “cuspers” can be influenced positively through great engagement from the most engaged, but can also be deeply swung in another direction if the negativity gets in front of them.

Cancerous work environments are toxic and dangerous – however, it is important for businesses to understand where that behavior is born from. Do they hate the job? Do they disagree with expectations? Are they naturally unhappy individuals or do they have unknown external situations that are causing their ill opinions? Is it the salary? Is it their manager?

My feeling is that there is no true blueprint to finding cancerous behavior – simply being in-tune with your teams through the management of effective one-on-one communication, open dialog and proof that you are constantly working on improving the culture.

People blind spots can also be bucketed. Bucket one could be hiring decisions – did you protect your business and its culture by making sure there are checks and balances when hiring? Do you have data on similar personalities of high performers? Do you say no? Bucket two could be internal dialog, management and training. Remember, you are dealing with people. People come from all walks of life, experiences, DNA and parenting. Understand that it is your job as a manager to hold the sacred cows sacred, yet, make sure you are managing to the individual. Bucket three could be uncontrollable situations – things that happen outside of work that affect people. I am sure there are other buckets, too.

You, no matter what your level is, as a person, play a role in the good, bad and ugly of your company. Setting up a model to measure and protect will at least give you a fighting chance at figuring out how to deal with those people blind spots.

Externally, blind spots are found within your brand positioning, the why you/why now and external market conditions – such as the market and your competition. Having a read/pulse on each of those categories is important to the longevity of the business.

Do you study your competition? Do you know what you are famous for? Do you have a defined reason why your customers should work with you versus someone else?

Questions – both inside your head and posed to others – are the best way to find answers and predict blind spots.

If you are anything like me, many of your blind spots will revolve around people and actions. When you come to the realization that no blind spot is permanent, then you can work on future solutions to mitigate the risk of unknown, troublesome blind spots.