Brian Renstrom

Often times in the business world, companies can be undermined by what is known as the “virtual blind spot.” Much like actual blind spots on the road, those areas we are unable to see and therefore make us vulnerable. In the business world, these are areas where business leaders fail to identify new opportunities until it’s too late.

So how do businesses avoid virtual blind spots?

There is no set formula, though taking steps to “push the envelope” and to encourage new business models or innovation is a good way to start. This way people can avoid falling into old patterns that lead to stagnation rather than business growth. There are a number of different practices that have worked for businesses and helped them to shrink, if not eliminate, those virtual blind spots. These practices can include:  

De-Emphasizing the Hierarchy – One valuable step can be listening to employees’ ideas. By giving employees a chance to discuss their ideas, business leaders could very well be opening the door to something valuable.

Discouraging “Group Think” – This is an important step. If too many people turn into simple “yes people” who exist to simply rubberstamp the same old ideas, or if one person believes that he or she is speaking for everyone, problems can ensue and innovation can be stifled. A more productive approach is welcoming discussion and debate where such things are not only applicable, but could have value. Those businesses that remain open to new ideas are often the ones that wind up thriving.

Encouraging Inclusion – People at different levels of status with different skills, styles, backgrounds and experiences can all earn the right to participate, influence, decide, lead and succeed. Soliciting new opinions and encouraging inclusion can lead to some welcome business outcomes.

Creating Recognition Opportunities – Sometimes solid opportunities can be repressed by a corporate culture that has demonstrated that it is not open to new ways of thinking. By establishing mechanisms that foster ways for individuals or teams to be recognized for “outside the box” thinking, a leader can begin to change the very culture that has inadvertently muted the growth potential of a business.

Leaving the Comfort Zone – Finally, sometimes breaking with corporate tradition can be a good thing, particularly when an idea or style has run its course. This isn’t always what is called for, but when the traditional ideas don’t seem to be working, this can be a very productive avenue to explore.

The key is to avoid those virtual blind spots that can hold individuals and businesses back. Business leaders should be able to see all there is to see, even when the firm is confronted by something that it didn't expect or predict. By welcoming new approaches and possibly exploring new avenues, an environment can be created that enables the kind of thinking and problem-solving needed to identify an impressive new opportunity.

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