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Edition 271 – Blinded By The Light

I pulled up to a new set of traffic light on The Northern Road. It’s 8pm on a Saturday evening and I’m making my way back home after a day trip to Bathurst. Alongside me pulls up a Range Rover Velar. I wonder if he’s going to drag me off at the lights.

Such is the amount of infrastructure taking place in Western Sydney at the moment that old goat track roads are fast becoming dual carriageways. Beyond the lights, the road is reverting to it’s former self, concrete barriers either side of the new works underway. In parts, there is no street lighting.

As the lights turn green, I accelerate away and end up first in the queue. A minute or so later, it started. I noticed some light flickering in my rear vision mirror. Then, it’s progressively worse in my wing mirrors. It starts to annoy me as I try to figure out what’s happening.  As the Range Rover pulls closer, I notice two of the headlights are oscillating between on and off. Except the on and off are high beam and low beam. Then, I twig – these new Range Rovers have auto adaptive high beam headlights meaning that you, the driver, no longer needs to think about switching between high and low beam. You merely let the car do the work. You rely on the technology and keep driving as you normally would, all in the interests of improved driver safety and comfort. Supposedly!

The same thing happens in business. We over rely on technology to give us the answer. Or we default to the spreadsheet that has always finalised the quote. Yet, if it’s not configured right, what’s the point? If the spreadsheet formula is incorrect, then so is the result that you’re aiming to achieve. Why the unchallenged belief in technology if it generates a wrong answer – or high beam in the mirror in the car in front of you?

This is where we need to revert to some of the old ways.

Like using our brains and human expertise to take control, ask questions and disseminate the results.

Like seeking the input of trusted advisors to look for the blind spots we can’t see.

Like developing the people in our business to think, rather than merely accept what a piece of technology tells them.

Like turning off all the electronic distractions, grabbing a notepad and pen, and jotting things down.

Like asking ourselves “can that be right?”

It seems the more we rely on technology, the less intelligent we become.