Problem Blindness And How To Open Your Eyes

Today, I learned about “Problem Blindness” from the book “Upstream”. The concept delves into our inability to recognize problems in our lives or in other areas.

Problem Blindness

This is crucial because, often, we remain oblivious to the existence of a problem, becoming accustomed to it and making adjustments to accommodate it. Alternatively, we might just accept it as it is, assuming there’s no solution, and believing that it’s a commonplace issue that everyone experiences.
If we can’t see a problem, we can’t solve it.

There are three primary reasons behind problem blindness:

1) Complete Denial of the Problem:

American football players getting injured was once considered par for the course, an accepted belief that they were simply destined to get hurt. This remained unchallenged until 1976 when it was observed that players in certain positions had significantly higher injury rates. They sustained more injuries in these specific positions. Further investigation, using camera recordings and machines, revealed that they were twisting their knee after jumping to make a catch. In fact, 90% of the players in that position made the same error. After training to improve their jumps, injury rates decreased.

  • Instead of passively accepting problems, it’s crucial to examine them from different perspectives to determine their root causes and seek solutions.
  • Don’t simply accept prevailing beliefs about an issue. Challenge and research them before drawing your own conclusions.
  • Q1: What are some problems that you’ve accepted without question, and now live with?

2) Over-Focusing and Overlooking:

An experiment was conducted to illustrate this. During a lung cancer scan, a fake gorilla sketch was embedded in the X-ray. Doctors, so intent on detecting signs of cancer, overlooked the obvious sketch of the gorilla.

  • When we fixate too intently on one area, presuming that the answer lies there, we might neglect other significant aspects. Perhaps we’re not addressing the root cause of the problem.
  • It’s essential to zoom out and see the bigger picture, assessing things from various angles.
  • Q1: Where might you be focusing too narrowly, potentially missing answers because of your preconceived notions?

3) General Acceptance of a Problem:

In Brazil, no one questioned the prevalence of C-sections for childbirth until one woman’s personal experience prompted her to investigate. Post her surgery, she discovered that many Brazilian women actually preferred C-sections, and in some circles, it was even seen as a status symbol. Factors such as the convenience for doctors, financial benefits, reduced risks, and the time-consuming nature of natural births contributed to its popularity. However, a particular hospital championed natural births. While they had a mere 3% success rate in their first year, with dedicated efforts, it surged to 70%.

  • Don’t accept a problem at face value; always seek to understand its origins.
  • Q1: Are there widely accepted issues that impact your business or life that you haven’t questioned?

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