Human eyesight has a blindspot where the bundle of optic nerves and blood vessels enter our eyes. A significant segment of our field of vision is missing though we don’t notice it’s missing because our brains hide these blindspots from perception.
Something similar happens when people try to solve problems caused collectively, such as armed conflict, financial instability, debt, inequality, resource depletion, ecological loss and climate change. Blindspots that we don’t notice stop us from attempting change at the scale and speed needed to seriously tackle these linterlinked problems. So the problems persist and worsen.
Blindspots persist in all change initiatives but some key examples include:
- Trying to manage a complex indivisible system by incremental change to component parts.
- Seeking change out there in the world without changing our thinking or perception.
- Designing initiatives to target unwanted symptoms (eg climate change) rather than the system.
- Promotion of ‘what already works here’ that obscures ‘what’s needed to work everywhere’.
Fortunately our problem-solving blindspots are not hardwired and unchangeable like the design of our eyeballs. Blindspots due to our psychology, thinking habits and institutions can be discussed rather than neglected. Complexity can be managed rather than overlooked with partial ‘solutions’. New policy options for effective systemic solutions can be encouraged, mapped, designed and brought to decision makers.
By practising blindspotting, people involved at any stage of a problem-solving process involving any issues can see and explore options for more ambitious and effective change. The benefits can be immediate, with for example ‘circular economy’ becoming easier to communicate and implement – leading to profit without waste. A broad range of systemic risks to business and to regions can be overcome. Ultimately blindspotting can address the neglected gap between the scale of our our responses and the scale of the interconnected challenges.
Past success came despite our blindspots. Future success relies on seeing blindspots. What blindspots, problems, systems or potential solutions are you looking at? Please leave a comment below or get in touch.