Meadow CreekNews

Have You Seen the Nose on Your Face Lately?

Filed under Business Management, Small Business, Venture Capital and Start Ups on January 2, 2011

As plain as the nose on your face. What does that mean? It means something that is obvious. It’s right up there with; plain as day, is the Pope Catholic, is a pig pork and does a bear sh#t in the woods?
We all look in a mirror many times a day. What do we see? We see what we are looking for. Is my hair combed? Did I remember to shave? Are my teeth clean? We confirm what we most likely already know and get on with life.
I suppose if I was bleeding profusely from the side of my head, I might notice. For the most part though, my glance in the mirror when I’m washing my hands is perfunctory and unlikely to shed any new insight as to what I look like.
Most change comes very slowly. I’ve put on 55 years and 55 pounds. That is not something I noticed in my daily looks in the mirror. I’ve noticed the people around me putting on weight and getting old, but not myself. I know me very well and I don’t need to look in the mirror to find these things out, I’d have noticed in other ways.
When I moved to Seattle, I bought a new home. This home had a big hole in the kitchen cabinets where a refrigerator ought to be. As the proud owner of a new home, I set out to fill the huge void. It required a giant built-in refrigerator that cost more than my first car.
I cherished this refrigerator for at least a week before it became as plain as the nose on my face. It was there, it kept food cold or frozen and delivered ice and water from the opening in the front.
Over the holidays, a major exception occurred and I took notice again. The refrigerator no longer delivered ice and water from the convenient nook in the front. This was a major disruption to my everyday life so I took notice. I decided the best course of action was to procrastinate. It still made ice and there was water available at the sink. Not chilled and highly filtered water, but it would do. I would turn off the icemaker and wait until the bin was empty so I could take it all apart and find out what was wrong.
The process took about a week. I was becoming increasingly unpopular as my procrastination took its toll on the family. I didn’t see anyone else trying to fix it so why should I feel guilty.
As I gathered my tools and prepared for an afternoon of swearing at an inanimate object, I noticed something funny. There were six buttons on the door. The two on the left were crushed and cubes. The two on the right were on and off for the little light that let you fill a glass with water without spilling it all over the floor at night.
I knew these four buttons. I used them all the time, we were like friends, but the other two in the middle were complete strangers. I guess I saw them every day, but ignored them, I knew what I wanted from the refrigerator and knew how to get it, so I didn’t need them, they were not my friends.
I looked down to see what they were. Their names were lock and unlock. It immediately dawned on me that the lock button might be there to prevent toddlers from pressing the levers you push a glass into and flood a kitchen with ice and water. I pushed unlock and tested the ice and water. They both worked.
The family had endured a week without convenient ice and water. Four adults had missed the two buttons that were as plain as the nose on their face.
They reminded me of all the things my phone, television and car are capable of doing that I haven’t bothered find out existed or learn how to use them. My expectations are satisfied, so I don’t bother. If I knew what was possible, my expectations would change.
I have to wonder what I’m missing in my business. If I can live with a refrigerator for eight years and not be familiar with six lousy buttons on the front door, the possibilities for missing critical things in my business are endless.
My style tends to be highly focused. When I’m in the groove, the building could burn down around me and I wouldn’t notice. There is a task at hand and I’m all over it.
What’s going on that I’m not noticing. What changes have occurred slowly over time that I haven’t noticed, but are now serious threats I need to be aware of. What new opportunities are there that I’m unaware of.
I haven’t slept in a week.
Richard Gabel

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