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Doing Business With Blinders On

Updated: Aug 13, 2022

The remedy actually starts with basic humility.

What if you were to discover that you’re doing something in the daily operations of your business that is potentially invisible to you, will contribute to a variety of problems on an ongoing basis, and can be easily and inexpensively remedied? It’s tempting to believe that we would be quick to welcome insight about such a burden on our operations, but the sad truth is that many organizations aren’t open-minded enough to even entertain that this issue exists, let alone to take any steps to correct it.

Even more perplexing is the fact that the nature of this concern seems counterintuitive, as it appears to fly in the face of what we often consider to be a core component of success. How often do we convince ourselves that the key to fostering a thriving business model is to dig our heels in, put our nose to the grindstone, and plow ahead oblivious to what’s going on around us? That might seem like the bold, brave demeanor typical of a successful business, but the reality is that a mindset like this can end up being a potential recipe for disaster.

The end product of doing business with blinders on will, more often than not, be some version of what is commonly referred to as “silo mentality”. This term basically describes an environment where employees, departments, or perhaps the business at large operate with a single-minded focus, intentionally disregarding anything that doesn’t fit neatly into the box that they’ve created to define the parameters of what they do day by day. When this occurs, there’s inevitably a degree of self-delusion at work, and this can have the unfortunate effect of sometimes masquerading as success.

"The stark truth is that business can be booming, with productivity at an all-time high, and yet we’re doing a silent disservice to ourselves."

The great peril of the silo mentality is that it kills collaboration, because the underlying theme, whether for an individual or for the entire organization, is “I can do this myself”. In all actuality, adopting this stance immediately eliminates any possibility of true growth. By looking only at what you do, you’re completely missing what everyone else is bringing into play – all of their creativity, problem solving, and innovation.

When this happens between members of a team, or business units in an organization, there’s little chance of the entity ever really reaching the full potential of what’s embodied in its mission statement. The more probable outcome is one of disconnect and compartmentalization, with few in the organization ever truly apprehending the “big picture”. Competitiveness tends to be a logical by-product of all this, and it serves to further drive wedges that end up making collaborative efforts almost unattainable.

Are You Looking Through the Eyes of Jealousy?

Business owners themselves, even sole proprietors, can slip into the silo mindset without realizing that it’s happening. Jealously guarding their endeavors might seem like a prudent approach, but doing so causes them to totally overlook what their peers (and similar organizations or businesses) are engaged in. Everyone else’s efforts end up being viewed only as a threat, and a casualty of this approach is that the business will lose any potential that could have been gained by pursuing partnership with other entities. Networking, a tremendously powerful tool if properly leveraged, ends up being out of reach of the business due entirely to its own self-absorption.

The good news in all of this is that the remedy to doing business with blinders on actually starts with basic humility. The ego and defiance of believing that you only need to focus on you is best countered by recognizing that you don’t have all the answers, you don’t know how to do everything perfectly, and there is a wider world beyond the confines of the box you’ve created for your business enterprise. A good start for retooling one’s view of how they fit into the bigger picture involves addressing the two-way concept of influence, and recognizing that there is wisdom both to gain and to share by looking beyond self-imposed isolation.

To be sure, there’s a healthy balance to be struck with all this. From an internal perspective, employees need to be guided in practical and relevant ways to gain an understanding of what other team members and business units do to help the entire organization fulfill its purpose. For business owners, there’s certainly no benefit in either pretending that competing business don’t exist, or in becoming fixated on them. A much more balanced approach is to look within your peer group for potential allies, to seek out commonality in the realm of doing business, and to be quick to recognize when others aren’t interested in pursuing that same goal.

The word “vision” is often so over-used in the business sphere as to become meaningless fluff – something to be splattered across the landing page of a website or dropped into other community-facing environments. True vision is about discerning what to watch, and how to draw healthy parameters around that vantage point so that the correct focus on your success is never compromised. Doing so requires being able to soberly assess your own strengths and weaknesses – to permanently remove those blinders -- and to honestly ask where you fit in the bigger picture of whatever your sphere of influence is.


Do you want to get a deeper perspective on the overall health of your small business or nonprofit? If so, visit You can also contact us at or call 240-329-9387. Also, be sure to visit us on our YouTube Channel for tips, insights, and guidance on how you can truly do smart work in your organization.

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