Missing the Obvious

In our eagerness to look below the surface or under the radar to identify inhibitors to high performance, we risk overlooking the obvious.

I admit there is a part of me that is drawn to looking where no one else seems to want to look — curious about what’s not being said, not being heard, not being looked at.

The Politics of Creativity is very much about equipping leaders to make visible the invisible, uncover “undiscussables”, examine the “sacred”, or explore beyond in order to identify inhibitors to high performance.

However, when discussing culture and high performance with R&D; leaders here in the Twin Cities last week, I realize now we emphasized our own bias towards uncovering those aspects of culture which are not obvious, not visible.

There are indeed very tangible and self-evident examples of cultural norms and behaviors. For example, do the men in your organization keep a neck tie behind the door to put on when going to the executive suite? If I asked you to describe some of the differences between the culture of Google and that of IBM you probably would be able to do so without much difficulty. Some of the differences are obvious.

I don’t want to be guilty of missing the obvious while seeking to help others uncover organizational blindspots.