You are programmed like a computer to make certain mistakes. This is why entrepreneurs sometimes hit a wall in their business. Up to a certain level of growth, their particular way of thinking or style of leadership works well. But beyond that point, if they don’t grow beyond the mistakes they are prone to making or learn how to compensate for them, the business just keeps performing at the same level, eventually resulting in failure or leadership replacement.
There are several types of biases and flaws in perception that plagued humans. In some respects, it’s amazing that we’ve gotten as far as we have. But I attribute success to working together and getting diverse contributions from multiple people, each with a slightly different point of view.
In his book, Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph Hallinan documents the sorts of mistakes that humans are particularly susceptible to making. One that I find particularly common among the businesses we work with is, “We see, but we don’t see.” We look at a picture and perceive the portions we are expecting to see or the portions that we are used to seeing and miss, sometimes important, portions that simply don’t confirm our expectations.
A common mistake in 2008 was to ignore the signs that something important was happening in the market. Lots of signs abounded that things were troubling, but people somehow missed the fact that this was not just a bad month, or quarter, but something much bigger.
Frontrunners and well-managed companies seek outside input and challenge their thinking on a periodic, quarterly or even monthly basis to help push leadership out of any comfort zones or reality distortion fields. They do this so they can be aware of any problems that may be growing. A great client that runs a very impactful organization wakes up each morning and asks, “Who’s afraid of me now? What business is shaking in their boots with worry over my next move?” From time to time they turn to us to challenge their thinking and ensure they aren’t missing anything.
Who challenges your thinking? Do you have a board of advisors, investors or any others that offer a fresh perspective and advice?