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The Power of Noticing

Max Bazerman's Importance of Observation Talk Urges Us to Trust Our Instinct

— August 6, 2014 — Keynote Trends
In his importance of observation talk, Max Bazerman discusses how heeding your environment is a crucial leadership quality.

Bazerman notes that those who are caught behaving badly within a corporate environment are likely to receive a lot of media attention. However, what's curious is that in each of those cases, there were a lot of people who failed to notice that something was amiss beforehand. In his book, titled 'The Power of Noticing,' Bazerman aims to educate people on how to become "first class noticers," a term he borrows from leadership scholar Warren Bennis. Ironically, Bazerman doesn't consider himself to be an astute noticer himself; however, it is a skill he has spent honing over the past several years.

Bazerman neglected to report a curious incident that occurred while he was preparing a testimony for the U.S. Department of Justice in a case against the tobacco industry. When he later discovered that someone had come forward with a similar account, Bazerman realized that he had access to crucial information, but because he wasn't sure what had happened, didn't do anything about it. He explains, "I think a lot of our failure to notice happens when we're busy, it happens when we don't know exactly what's happening. But I think it's our job as executives, as leaders, as professionals, to act when we're pretty sure that something's wrong. It's our job to notice, and not to simply be passive when we can't quite figure out the evidence."