Blind Spots

By Dan Flanagan, CSO

My first recollection of the term, “Blind Spot,” was at 14 years-old on a sunny, summer morning in the middle of central Iowa. Taking the driver’s seat of Horizon Hatchback and my driver’s education teacher seated to the right in the passenger seat, he was ready to apply his heavy leg to “his” brake if the situation required “his participation…” Cautious of the 14-year-old driver, he put his life in my hands and instructed me to progress down one of the few four-lane highways in our town. I was constantly reminded by him that week to check my “Blind Spot.”

My friends and I had fun with somewhat mocking this retired teacher’s “over-use” of that term. We were in the middle of Iowa – mostly farm country towns, gravel roads, and certainly few four-lane highways. Needless to say, in our minds, there were not going to be a lot of hazards popping out behind and around us to drive home his points of safety and concern. We did pass without harming too much or killing anything or anyone.

“Blind Spots” have come to mind over the recent past as we continue to grow our great company. How often do we slow down, stop, and invite others outside our company to help us reflect on where we are performing, doing well, and why, and just as important, help us see what we possibly do not see? These are areas where the actual people and clients we serve can share openly with us. Our clients have been instrumental in showing us where and how we can improve our service on all fronts of our business.

Have you considered inviting a cross section of your clients to join you at your company trainings and retreats? This has the potential to make a great impact on your team and theirs. It creates a safe place for them to share necessary feedback, guiding your team and company on vital ways to be better than you are today. It shows your team and your clients that “getting better” is important, you are willing to invest in the extra resources to make it happen; and it gives all the opportunity to grow trust and relationships beyond where they historically have been.

Our team has appreciated these opportunities to collaborate and learn from the people we truly serve. It has made us better and I know it will continue to make us better. We have created and adjusted Best Practices around ideas and feedback from these sessions. The transparency has created better buy-in from all of us on the team.

Big Picture – it has made us realize that when we “look in the mirror,” do we see a lion? Do we see a mouse? Do we see a genuinely great team that has great potential, a team that is committed to getting better, and a team that will do what it takes to continue to serve those who provide us with great opportunities? In reality, it is healthy to see all of these pictures. We need to believe BIG; we need to know when we are small and require intentional focus on improvement items, and we need to believe we are “just a little bit” better than maybe we are. We need to hear it from someone else who has our “Back and Blind Spot.”