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Waking up to reality

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Harvard business professor Richard Tedlow explains why we get blindsided:

1. Ignorance. If you don’t reward people for telling the truth, they’ll keep you in blissful ignorance.

2. Denial. There’s a difference between being wrong and being in denial. Everybody’s wrong sometime, but not everybody is in denial. Some folks don’t want to believe the truth, so they decide not to.

Example: Ford Model Ts were for first-time car buyers. As more people owned cars, Chevrolets muscled in. The evidence was right in front of his eyes, but Henry Ford denied it.

3. Pride. The American tire industry lost ground to Europe as Americans invented fairy tales instead of fixing problems. U.S. companies actually said that different cars and roads required different tires, and that Europeans minded blowouts more than Americans did.

“If you deny reality,” Tedlow says, “you’re going to pay the price.”

— Adapted from “Nothing To See Here,” Matthew Budman, The Conference Board Review.

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