There’s a kind of mental blindness going around businesses these days, and it comes with a hefty price tag in terms of money, market share, and customer loyalty. This blindness leads companies to grow at the cost of their current clients, and out of pace with the infrastructure that has allowed them to provide desirable goods or services, reliably, and at a reasonable cost.
Mental blindness occurs when and individual, a department, or a full organization fail to see a problem or a project in terms of the whole picture, instead focusing on the piece that is right in front of them. Day to day operations eclipse strategic planning. There can be many reasons for the blindness—complacency, lack of training and communication, bad work environment, arrogance and ambition that outweigh the reality of the need for a strategic plan to manage growth. If left unchecked, mental blindness can be the kiss of death for the organization.
Sometimes the mental blindness is limited to one or two departments within the organization. For example, IT personnel may bring to a manager’s attention that they need more training on a specific software package. The manager, experiencing mental blindness, fails to acknowledge the need. Or when there is poor communication between Production and Sales, leading to backlogs of orders and overstocks of items that aren’t selling well. In these examples, the blindness may have been confined to one department, but the effects are felt throughout as poorly trained workers make costly mistakes; dissatisfied clients take their money elsewhere; and resources are tied up in making, storing, and moving products that consumers aren’t buying.
Sometimes mental blindness takes hold of an entire company, as in the cases of Uber and Target. In eight years, Uber rose from a startup to one of the most valuable companies in America, by some estimates worth over $70 billion. There was not a strong foundation to support and guide this explosive growth. Along the way, they have been plagued by legal troubles with claims ranging from sexual harassment to rape. No matter how Uber weathers these storms, it is plain to see that they have some serious problems with their company culture, and with serving their customers. Unchecked growth and lack of foresight led to catastrophe. And then there’s the case of Target’s failed foray into Canada. This attempted expansion was marked by unattractive retail locations, poorly stocked shelves, and dissatisfaction for the Canadian consumers, all because mental blindness prevented Target leaders from planning carefully before embarking on such a large venture. Target is out billions of dollars, and they may never be able to gain a foothold in Canada.
The costs of mental blindness are many—bad press leading to loss of faith from consumers and shareholders; hindered growth that leaves room for the competition to get ahead; unnecessary spending on worthless property and tools; costly government investigations and lawsuits; and most importantly, the impact on the lives of employees, shareholder, and customers. Once these people have lost faith in an organization, it’s nearly impossible to get them back. Taking a step back, taking a few breaths, and seeing the big picture is a much smarter way to do business. It’s much wiser to do it right the first time.
Beacon Grace LLC helps combat mental blindness with our proprietary ‘Beacon Operational Health Assessment’. We help supply chain organizations measure their operational health to aid in strategic planning, financial allocation, and risk mitigation. To learn more, go to www.beacongrace.com. Or, contact us at (240) 329-9400.