Reframing to Uncover Blindspots

person in leather shoe standing in autumn leaves

What We Can’t See Is Where Risk and Opportunities Lie.

WALKING DOWN a stretch of road I normally drive I notice all the things I’ve missed: The wiener dog weather vane on top of a neighbor’s house, the Mountain Canyon Estates sign announcing the start of a development, the trailhead leading down to the local river. I realize: the faster we travel through life the more we are apt to miss. Translated for business: The faster the change the greater the number of potential blind spots.

One very self-aware leader once said his greatest fear was not making a bad decision but being blind to something important. Overconfidence in your success formula, cultures that don’t reward dissenting views, and the fear of failure are danger signs that a company is breeding a virus of blind spots.

There are many ways to minimize blind spots: Focus groups, market research, environmental scans, SWOT analyses, 360 assessments, after-action reviews, and a myriad of other tools all designed to find blind spots. Learning organizations develop key performance indicators (KPI’s) designed to seek, find, and learn from blind spots. Companies with this kind of disciplined approach enjoy a competitive advantage over organizations that only reinforce what they already know.

Another way to seek out and find blind spots is through a coaching process called “Reframing”. Well-chosen questions help people and teams look at a situation from a different perspective, thereby gaining a new understanding and uncovering the blindspot.

Here are a few reframing questions to try with your team:

  • If you were a doctor and your team was your patient, what would your diagnoses be? Where is the patient experiencing health concerns? Where is it sick? What is your patient telling you that you haven’t heard before?
  • If you put yourself into someone else’s shoes, how would you see the situation differently?
  • If you were to look down on this person or situation from 30,000 feet, what would you see that you haven’t’ seen in the past?
  • One year from now, when people look back on this project, what will be different in the organization?
  • What if you had reached that goal? What actions would you have taken and when?
  • How would you handle this situation differently now than did two months ago?

If reframing sounds like a good idea, build in time during some of your team meetings to seek out and find what you’ve been missing. Not only will you be able to mitigate risk and capitalize on new opportunities, but you’ll also find a new level of energy within your team, fueled by greater trust and engagement.

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“If the problem cannot be solved within the frame it was conceived, the solution lies in reframing the problem.”

– Brian McGreevy