You don?t know what you know!

Opportunities might be right in front of you?and you?re probably not seeing them.

How often do you miss opportunities that are right in front of you? You?re in a role where you do and see the same things day-in day-out. Processes that might bother you, or seem clunky to start with, eventually become automatic and unconscious ? you accept them as ?the way it is?. Then, when someone new comes along and makes a change you say to yourself ?of course, why didn?t I think of that?!

I saw the perfect example of this last week when I boarded a newish Virgin plane in Melbourne. I immediately noticed the usual ?no-smoking? light above me had been replaced with something more relevant. When you consider that smoking on most commercial airlines around the world was banned by 1990, the ?no smoking? light was very outdated. Instead, the light now read ?Please Turn Off Electronic Devices?. My first reaction was ?yes, of course, this light is a lot more relevant?. Then, I started to wonder, why hadn?t this change been made years ago?

My answer is that when things are ?same-same? we tend not to take much notice of them. We do things automatically and stop taking notice of the ?how? or ?why? we?re actually doing it. In doing this we miss being able to identify opportunities for improvement ? we don?t know what we know.

In contrast, when something is new to us and we?re in a ?learning state? we are highly aware of everything we?re doing. It is in this state that we are able to challenge the way things are done and provide a new/different perspective.

Drawing based on the Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill by Noel Burch (1970?s).

So how do bypass the automatic ?same-same? state and start to re-see the things we?ve learnt to ignore? Here are three things you might like to try in your business:

Take advantage of a fresh pair of eyes

New employees are invaluable for this exercise?encourage them to share: initial insights; thoughts on the way things are done; and, suggestions on how things could be done differently. It?s a really cost effective solution ? and engages employees from the outset.

Bring in a consultant

Hire an external consultant to conduct a review of your business, people and processes. They can point out the things you no longer see so you can work towards improving them.

Channel your inner child

When you apply a child?s lens to your business or situation you see things as they are, without any filters. To get into a childlike state you might try getting down on the floor so you?re seeing things from a different angle. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • As a child, what questions would I be asking about this process/space/product?
  • What comments might I make about what I see?
  • What am I hearing?
  • How does it make me feel?
  • Is it simple enough to understand? Does it make sense?

Above all, identifying opportunities for improvement takes time and an open mind. As Michael Michalko?wrote in his article on changing the way you look at things, ??just a few moments’ thinking time can prime you to perform either better or worse than normal at both mental and physical tasks?.

So, acknowledge you don?t know what you know and take a different approach to identifying opportunities!

Shelley Flett is a passionate leader with a keen focus on creating efficient and sustainable team environments through adaptable leadership.?She is a Leadership Coach, Trainer, Facilitator, Mentor and Speaker who ignites vision and purpose in those she works with.

If you?d like to know more about her latest program ?Creating Dynamic Teams? please drop her an email

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