Seeing the Bigger Picture

I’m putting together a conference for some people and want to demonstrate them the importance of seeing the bigger picture and how we often miss signals that are quite obvious.  Some classic examples include the video of people playing basketball missing the gorilla in their midst and another is that of the wonderful videos at quirkology by Richard Wiseman, especially the colour changing card trick, my favourite.

Now to all those (yes both of you) out there in blogosphere land, are there other cool examples that I could use to demonstrate to these senior people that their own cognitive biases can limit them seeing the bigger picture that prevents them from identifying weak signals of emerging change? 

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3 Responses to Seeing the Bigger Picture

  1. Here is a fun example – how good are you at spotting fake smiles? After the survey there is a bit at the end that explains why people often mistake real smiles for fake ones, what the cues are, etc.: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles/

    One of the best ways of missing signals is to allow our own cognitive dissonance to get in the way of critical decision making. Think of the company that makes Equal sweetener – I’m sure that there were signs that they needed to move forward with new and innovative product lines for years, but they didn’t. Now I wonder how much of their market Splenda has? If they had done a critical strategic analysis of their industry and been open to investing more in disruptive technologies/products along the way, I wonder if they would be in a different situation right now?

  2. Frank Connolly says:

    Maybe a simple request for them to remove their heads from those regions devoid of the radiant energy of the sun might be a good start ?

  3. Nerida Hart says:

    The example I like to give is looking at a large painting – for example Blue Poles. When you are too close you cannot see what the painting is, but when you stand back you suddenly get it. I think Hamid Soltani used this example in a workshop I attended.

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