I wrote recently about one of the best traits in leadership and the need to focus on consistency (You can read more about it here). However, it’s important to realise that being too focused on a particular outcome can be just as dangerous. Whist channelling your attention on a goal can provide the drive and motivation to push your business in a certain direction, too much focus in one area can lead one to ‘inattentional blindness’.
Being Blind to Important Information
In his book “The Power of Noticing”, Max H. Bazerman mentions that as we go from day to day, we often don’t see things that are right in front of us. Sometimes we do not pay enough attention and we subconsciously “blind” ourselves to things. The Power of Noticing is about learning to be more aware, a skill that is crucial to making important decisions, and is a key part of being a great leader.
Learning from NASA
In 1986, NASA Engineers expressed their concern about the potential failure of the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. They ran simulations and came back with a chance of failure, which the management was willing to accept as a ‘suitable risk’ to proceed with the launch.
As they were focused on the variables of the launch itself, the engineers did not take into account the temperature that day. The simulations made the assumption that the launch would occur at a temperature of around 18˚C. However, on the fateful day of the launch, the temperature hovered at 4˚C. The cold temperatures had a material impact on the performance of O-rings that sealed the rocket boosters; and it was this that sealed the fate of Challenger. NASA was so focused on certain variables that they failed to take into account that temperature would affect the probability of a successful launch.
Focusing and noticing
Intense focus on a single aspect of your business may unintentionally blind you to the other factors, which may ultimately affect the achievement of the very goal that you’re working towards. Learn to not only to focus, but to notice as well. By noticing, you will be better equipped to make important decisions, especially those which will affect the outcome of your business.