Menu
Menu
6 deadly blindfolds to avoid in order to outpace change

6 deadly blindfolds to avoid in order to outpace change

Organisations and their leaders become blind over time to the powerful external realities that shape their world. And they often forget who ultimately pays the bills.





We believe that these six blindfolds are, in reality, self-imposed. They are often placed on subtly over time.

Shane Cragun and Kate Sweetman


As you read through the following list of companies, see what comes to mind: RadioShack, Sears, Blockbuster Video, Bethlehem Steel, Blackberry, Atari, Tidal, and Polaroid.

If your answer is “all are on a path to irrelevance, or already extinct,” than you would be correct. Some are on their way to the emergency room, others are on life support, and an unfortunate few are already RIP.

Why? Compelling research suggest that the number one reason organisations fail is a failure to adapt to an ever changing external environment.

We suggest the root cause behind this is what we call organisational vision loss, or blindness. With regard to the human eye, vision loss is the decreased ability to see to the point that things become distorted. And total blindness is the inability to see anything at all.

It seems that organisations, and the leaders that lead them, become blind over time to the powerful external realities that shape their world. They become insular, and disadvantaged with all of the visual distortion that unfortunately comes with this. And they often forget who ultimately pays the bills.

We’ve identified six metaphorical blindfolds that leaders and organisations wear that create various degrees of blindness. We’ve seen this with sales and marketing departments and professionals that we have worked with as well.

Kate Sweetman
Kate Sweetman

These blindfolds are global in nature in that they tend to apply in every geography, culture, industry, and customer-facing department.

Shane Cragun and Kate Sweetman

These blindfolds are global in nature in that they tend to apply in every geography, culture, industry, and customer-facing department.

Arrogance: An overbearing display of superiority, self-importance, and false pride.

Negative feedback not acknowledge here: The inability to hear anything negative about a project, the company, or yourself. The inability to confront the brutal facts because it might get in the way of your agenda, deadlines, and reputation.

Dismissing competitors’ successes: Refusing to accept a competitor’s success as valid and downplaying a competitor’s strategy and product innovations. Usually because of your own past successes.

We know what’s best for the customer: An inability to have empathy for customer frustrations and needs, and a lack of inquisitiveness to find out ways to better align to customers current and future desires.

Believing problems don’t exist: Being either completely blind to organisational and individual problems or dismissing them to protect oneself and the company.

Avoiding the unavoidable: Seeing the writing on the wall, but assuming it will go away in miraculous ways, and life and business will eventually return to normal with no change required on our part.

We use the term blindfold because we believe that these six blindfolds are, in reality, self-imposed. They are often placed on subtly over time.

As a sales and marketing leader, how are you doing in ensuring these blindfolds are never put on in the first place, or taken off when recognised? Are you able to facilitate discussions with teams and the leadership teams that you reside in? And do any of your current CRM tools facilitate discussions around these six blindfolds and whether we really understand the true needs of our constituents?

Shane Cragun
Shane Cragun

To what degree have we as an organisation directly or indirectly encouraged 'negative feedback not acknowledged here?'

Shane Cragun and Kate Sweetman

Below is a quick quiz that we encourage all senior leaders leading any function to review with their teams at least once a quarter in a formal setting. The answers can lead to robust and healthy discussions that prevent bad things from happening to the business.

Six deadly blindfold discussion exercise

1. To what degree have we as an organisation directly or indirectly encouraged a culture of “arrogance?”

2. To what degree have we as an organisation directly or indirectly encouraged “negative feedback not acknowledged here?”

3. To what degree have we as an organisation directly or indirectly encouraged a culture of “dismissing competitors successes?”

4. To what degree have we as an organisation directly or indirectly encouraged a culture of “we know what’s best for the customer?”

5. To what degree have we as an organisation directly or indirectly encouraged a culture of “believing problems don’t exist?”

6. To what degree have we as an organisation directly or indirectly encouraged a culture of “avoiding the unavoidable?”

We submit that there is a powerful law firmly in place in today’s Age of Disruption called the Law of the 21st Century Business Jungle:

Quickly adapt or perish!

Organisations in the 21st century who consistently generate remarkable results and create sustainable competitive advantages will be those that adhere to this powerful law. Savvy sales and marketing leaders will also be aware, and align themselves to, two powerful principles constantly in play no matter the market, industry, or geography. And they will help their peers in line functions also getting better aligned to these two principles as well.

Age of Disruption Principle - Today: To win today, individuals and organisations must be able to change internally faster and more dynamically than the speed and magnitude of external change.

Age of Disruption Principle - Tomorrow: To win tomorrow, individuals and organisations must create internal change capacity and capability faster than the rate of change projected to happen externally.

In the Age of Disruption, the ability to survive, thrive, and actually accelerate results – both individually and organisationally – is directly tied to your ability to outpace the change in your external environment. This requires that you are able to identify important shifts and trends in your external business environment, and respond proactively versus reactively.

The six deadly blindfolds provide a useful framework that sales and marketing leaders keep at the ready in their toolkit as they try to help their teams and organisations stay ahead of change and shape their environment. Sales and marketing leaders are focused on customers more than almost in other function, and can play a valuable gatekeeper role in ensuring high quality vision exists.

The six deadly blindfolds and any kind of vision distortion, or vision loss, is unquestionably the fastest way to slide into irrelevance and ultimately fail.

Shane Cragun and Kate Sweetman are founding principals at SweetmanCragun, which provides leadership and high-performance solutions specifically tailored for today’s Age of Disruption. They are co-authors of the new book Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption, and are based in Boston.

"In the Age of Disruption, the ability to survive, thrive, and actually accelerate results – both individually and organisationally – is directly tied to your ability to outpace the change in your external environment. This requires that you are able to identify important shifts and trends in your external business environment, and respond proactively versus reactively."
"In the Age of Disruption, the ability to survive, thrive, and actually accelerate results – both individually and organisationally – is directly tied to your ability to outpace the change in your external environment. This requires that you are able to identify important shifts and trends in your external business environment, and respond proactively versus reactively."

Follow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz

Sign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.

Join us on Facebook.


Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

Join the CIO New Zealand newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags predictive analyticsDXdigital transformationdigital disruptionCIOcmobusiness intelligenceanalyticsbusiness transformationShane CragunretailPolaroidCDOatariKate SweetmanBlockbuster VideoTidalReinventionBethlehem SteelSearsRadioShackcustomer feedbackCXOkmartSweetmanCraguncxBlackberry

More about BlockbusterFacebookJunglePolaroidRadioShackTwitter

Show Comments