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What Prevents Leaders from "Connecting the Dots"?

What Prevents Leaders from "Connecting the Dots"?

Dan McCarthy | Great Leadership

January 25, 2010

It seems like as a result of the failed bombing attempt on the Northwest Airlines flight, “connecting the dots” is the new “thinking outside the box”.

The phrase may need to be added to your latest version of corporate bull%$#* bingo.

SmartBrief on Leadership did a poll last week and asked the following question:

In your organization, what prevents people from “connecting the dots” with important information?

Here are the results and commentary from a research consultant:

- Corporate silos blocking information flow 33.46%
- Unwillingness to speak truth to power 25.24%
- No direct responsibility/“not my problem” attitude 19.94%
- Poor listening/unwillingness to hear bad news 11.28%
- Political correctness 6.12%
- Paucity of information 3.96%

Where the trouble comes from: It’s clear that that connecting the information dots in organizations is no simple matter. Responses are diverse and suggest failure to connect information is mostly due to a slew of organizational behaviors, not a paucity of information (only 3.9%). Besides the architecture of organizational silos blocking the flow of information, a combination of negative behaviors aggregate to make the problem more complex and, hence, more difficult to solve. Unwillingness to speak truth to power, a “not my problem” attitude, poor listening, unwillingness to hear bad news and “political correctness” represent 62.6% of the reasons voted. “Hard” organizational policy will not effectively counter these “soft” behaviors. Enlightened team building, good culture, supportive architecture and informed leadership will. —Eva Schmatz, president, Summus Limited

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It’s a good poll and analysis, but the one potential cause that is missing and that may be the biggest reason why we can’t seem to see what’s right in front of us is that our own “worldviews”, or “paradigms” obstruct our vision.

Wikipedia defines worldview as “a comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing natural philosophy, fundamental existential and normative postulates or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.

Translation: it’s how we see the world. We all have a lifetime’s worth of experiences that shape our beliefs, attitudes, and values, and ultimately, our behaviors. When confronted with new information, we try to make sense of it – we unconsciously filter the new information through our worldviews and but it in the proper box. We decide what is “true” and what is “right”.

What You Can Do: 5 Ways


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