Blind Spot # 2 – Unwillingness To Change Decisions With New Information

For many leaders it is difficult to change their public stance with new information. It turns out that these leaders also often carry with them an outdated philosophy that says, “To change a publicly stated point of view is to display weakness and indecision.”  This philosophy has unfortunately become a desirable trait of leadership in our culture. One only needs to reflect on how quickly leaders are labeled as “flip floppers” and indecisive if they change their stance regarding their publicly stated views. A powerful example of this concept is illustrated in this quote from Kodak’s corporate literature regarding digital photography, “The keys to Eastman’s success in making photography a popular leisure-time activity for the masses were his development of roll film and the inexpensive box camera. Although film and cameras are far more sophisticated and versatile today, the fundamental principles behind his inventions have not changed.” The rigidity of Kodak management in the face of the Japanese onslaught of digital photography is now a widely recognized example of leadership failure.

On the other hand, great leaders demonstrate flexibility in the face of new information and always put the interest of the larger organization ahead of their ego and public image. Leaders with a “learning mindset” not only change their points of view with new information, but they build a culture around them that encourages others to do the same. They understand that the cost of rigidity is too high for their organizations and for them. Lou Gerstner in his book, “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance”  tells of how he spent a great deal of time listening to IBM customers and employees on issues ranging from future growth of core products, the shift to the PC, compensations schemes, corporate culture etc. and formulated a number of strategies and tactics based on his active listening and reflection.

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16 Responses to Blind Spot # 2 – Unwillingness To Change Decisions With New Information

  1. Stephen says:

    It’s interesting that leaders still think that having a fluid mind, one which takes new information and changes course based on that information, is seen as weak or a flip-flopper. I’d think it’d simply be common sense. From an evolution standpoint, those leaders would never survive. As Darwin said, those species that survive are not the strongest or smartest, but those most adept to change.

  2. Adam Schorr says:

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • Kaveh Naficy says:

      Adam. Love it. thank you

      • Sara says:

        Great job Jodi! It’s very true that all great leaders have been know for their viosin. Influencing others is a difficult thing to accomplish and very few are great at it. Thanks for giving us some tools that we can use in our business to help others see the viosin that we have for our businesses.

  3. Bob Casale says:

    A difficult lesson learned in my experience is truly listening to information that you don’t want to hear. When challenging information is placed at your door, there can be an immediate reaction to categorize or devalue it (eg ‘there is nothing wrong with our concept, the consumers in the focus group weren’t smart and didn’t understand…) if it doesn’t fit into your vision of how the world should be. I think the leadership challenge is absorbing information and adapting at the appropriate times, even if the steps that need to be taken as a result are painful.

  4. Kaveh Naficy says:

    bob well said. great leaders are able to elevate above their egos in the service of the bigger vision or the higher road

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