THE POWER OF NOTICING
What The Best Leaders See
What if you could broaden the bounds of natural awareness? Imagine your advantage in negotiations, decision-making, and leadership if you could teach yourself to see, and judge, information others routinely fail to notice.
Drawing on a wealth of examples—the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the rigging of Libor, J.P. Morgan Chase’s infamous “London Whale” scandal to name just a sampling—Bazerman diagnoses what information went ignored, and why. Using many of the same case studies and thought experiments designed in his executive MBA classes, he challenges readers to explore their cognitive blind spots, first experiencing their failures to notice and then unpacking the steps you can take to spy the salient details missed.
Bazerman provides a blueprint you can follow to short circuiting the habits that lead to poor decisions and ineffective leadership, including:
1) Invent the third choice. Very often we are presented with set choices to choose from. Learning to invent a choice not presented can immediately open up new strategic outcomes and leadership opportunities.
2) What you see is NOT all there is. Again and again our leaders fail to think about data that is outside their focus. From inviting unconventional attendees to a meeting to role playing different perspectives, there are ways to ask and answer, What information, were it available, would fundamentally change your conclusion?
3) Acknowledge self-interest. We all are invested in certain outcomes, but those biases can blind us to the best possible outcome. There are many ways industries, companies, and individuals can force their self-interest into focus and thereby blunt its influence on outcomes. Few are more effective than the old adage: put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
4) Pay attention to what didn’t happen. When applied, this skill comes close to arming you with second sight. Often it points to the blinders worn by colleagues or competitors.
5) Learn to spy misdirection, best identified by applying another old adage: if it is too good to be true, it likely is. Max Bazerman is the Straus Professor at the Harvard Business School and the author of numerous books on behavioral psychology, including Negotiation Genius with Deepak Malhotra, Blind Spots with Ann E. Tenbrunsel, and Negotiating Rationally. He is an executive committee member at the Harvard Program on Negotiation and a founding partner of Think! Inc a consulting firm that specializes in business negotiation. He speaks and teaches internationally, is frequently quoted in The New York Times, and is a member of the editorial boards of American Behavioral Scientist, Journal of Management and Governance, Mind and Society, Negotiations and Conflict Management Research, Psychological and Personality Science, and The Journal of Behavioral Finance.