How organisations can counter wilful blindness

Author: Margaret Heffernan
Commentator: Jodi Brown

Posted in: Thinking Differently
From: Issue 14

WHAT WE THINK

I first came across the notion of ‘wilful blindness’ when I was fortunate enough to hear Margaret Heffernan speak at a local school seminar in Dorset, UK.

Wilful blindness is the phenomenon where we choose to overlook knowledge and facts that might otherwise have led to better outcomes. It is something to which we are all fallible as explained in her book, “Wilful Blindness: Why we Ignore the Obvious at our Peril”. Margaret asks, “What makes us prefer ignorance? What are we so afraid of? Why do some people see more than others? And how can we change? “

In her address to the King’s Fund in June 2014, Margaret challenged the leaders of the NHS to, “…create the conditions in which if something is going wrong, someone’s going to stand up and say so.”

I have selected this article for The Edge as I firmly believe we are all responsible for creating the culture and environment in which honesty and candour comes first. Margaret offers us some tips as to how we can best achieve that through her ‘Five steps to seeing clearly’.

What do you / can you do to counter wilful blindness in your team or organisation?

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Senior Improvement Manager, Sustainable Improvement Team @NHSEngland Cognitive Behavioural Psycho...


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