Blind spot?

中国日报网 2013-11-29 13:51



Blind spot?

Reader question:

Please explain “blind spot” in this sentence: Though a strong organizational culture is critical in startups, it is a blind spot for most entrepreneurs.

My comments:

In other words, they don’t see it.

Don’t see what?

Don’t realize the importance of a strong, professionally solid organizational culture in startups.

When entrepreneurs endeavor to start a company, they first, obviously have to secure what is called seed capital. That’s money from investors (if their own money is not enough) to get their venture going, or started – hence the word startup. Then they look for the right people to work with – finding the right people, for example, for management personnel as well as general staff for production, marketing, etc.

When the money and people are in place, then they need to establish an organizational structure, centering on the company philosophy or its core mission. This, I think, is what is meant by organizational culture in our example. This culture is like an identity of a person, which allows one to readily tell a company in one industry from another in a different industry. For example, McDonalds, a fast food chain, is very different from Apple, a technology firm. Obviously so.

In our example, “a strong organizational culture” probably points more to a hierarchical system which ensures people from top to bottom are locked in step. By having a strong organizational culture, companies will have their people work as a team, stay on the same page. In other words, people will be able to work as a coherent team rather than a group of individuals each going their own way.

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs just don’t see it, because it’s their blind spot.

Blind spot, you see, originally is a medical term, descriptive of the part of the retina in the eye that’s not sensitive to light. Literally, everybody is said to have such a blind spot but for some people it develops into a medical condition – greatly affecting one’s eye sight in consequence.

Drivers often talk of blind spots in the rear of their vehicle in the literal sense. When they back off in a crowded parking lot, for example, we observe some drivers have to get off their car to make a personal inspection before backing their vehicle into position. That is because, they’ll tell you, even with the help of the rear view mirror and all, there’re blinds spots, areas they cannot see when they’re seated at the wheel.

Likewise, metaphorically speaking, if we say somebody has a blind spot about something, we mean to say they cannot see it.

Either they’re unable or they are unwilling to see it or understand it.

Either way, they ignore it.

Alright, let’s read a few media examples to drive the point home:

1. Rick Perry sure knows how to mess up a good thing. When he entered the presidential race last month, the Texas governor had an extraordinary opportunity. The GOP base had strong, deep reservations about Mitt Romney, the only other heavy-hitter in the race, so if Perry could satisfy their thirst for purity while demonstrating competence as a candidate and campaigner, he’d be well-positioned to unify the party and run away with the nomination.

But he is failing at both tasks. His performance in last night’s debate and the scathing response it has stirred from conservative opinion-shapers offers a vivid illustration of what’s going wrong for Perry.

First, there’s the matter of ideology. Part of the promise of Perry’s candidacy was that he would be a natural match for the Obama era Republican Party base, which is no longer satisfied just hearing the right rhetoric from its leaders -- it wants to believe that they mean it. This is why Romney was -- and still is -- so vulnerable. The words are there, but so are memories of his Massachusetts healthcare law and the array of moderate positions he took during the first decade of his political career.

It turns out, though, that Perry has his share of potentially disqualifying ideological baggage too. In a previous debate, his decision as governor to mandate an HPV vaccine for teenage girls led several of the no-shot conservative candidates (led by Michele Bachmann) to pile on, decrying this supposed violation of parental rights and endorsement of teenage sexual activity. The fringe candidates may not have helped themselves much, but they did succeed in seeding doubts about Perry among the religious conservatives who account for a big chunk of the GOP base.

In last night’s debate, a different Perry vulnerability attracted more attention: his support for allowing the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at Texas colleges and universities. When the question came up, Perry was defiant: “[I]f you say that we should not educate children who come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.” This led to another pile-on, with Rick Santorum calling Perry “soft” on immigration and Romney claiming that the tuition break was a magnet for illegal immigrants. Perry’s posture may be smart politics back in Texas, where Hispanic voters make up a considerable share of the electorate, but when it comes to the national GOP's Tea Party base, it’s a serious sin.

By itself, the fact that Perry has vulnerabilities on his right is not necessarily a campaign-killer, especially given the history of Romney, his main opponent. But a much bigger problem is also coming into focus: Perry is a terrible debater who is slow on his feet and has some basic policy blind spots -- and it’s starting to rattle Republican opinion leaders.

- Rick Perry is officially blowing it,, September 23, 2011.

2. A Liberal Democrat assembly member has accused party leader Nick Clegg of developing a “blind spot” over party policies for Wales.

South Wales West AM Peter Black has said that the deputy prime minister is not communicating positive messages properly.

Mr Black made the comments in his blog.

He said it “would just be nice” if commitments such as to a full law-making Welsh parliament were talked about “a bit more”.

It follows a “slip of the tongue”, in which Mr Clegg appeared to say that the UK government supports a yes vote in a referendum on more Welsh assembly powers.

Mr Black, an AM since the Welsh assembly was set up in 1999, wrote: “Clegg does appear to have developed a certain blind spot when it comes to Wales in recent weeks, missing the opportunity to make obvious points to reinforce our party’s strong support for fiscal and political fairness on a number of occasions,” he wrote.

- Clegg accused of ‘blind spot’ over Wales policies,, June 8, 2010.

3. A British couple have been left with nothing but the clothes on their backs after their campervan was broken into just a week after landing in New Zealand.

Nicola Forsyth, 28, and Tom Hiscock, 33, were visiting Te Papa in Wellington on Tuesday when thieves broke into their van, parked nearby, and stole all their belongings.

Everything was taken, including their backpacks with all their clothes and toiletries, and - of most concern to them - their camera memory cards where all their photographs are stored.

All they have left is the clothes they were wearing, their passports and a camera.

“We just feel completely sick,” said Nicola. “It’s hard to believe we lost everything just a few months into our travelling trip.”

The pair saved for two years for their “trip of a lifetime”, taking in South America, NZ, Australia and South-East Asia over nine months.

“We spent the last couple of months in South America and we expected something like this to happen there, not in broad daylight in New Zealand,” she said.

“It’s been one of our favourite countries, and I guess we’ve just been really unlucky.”

She said if there was “one thing” they could get back it would be the memory cards and USB stick so they don’t lose all their photographs from the trip.

They reported the burglary to police, who dusted for fingerprints and are studying CCTV footage, aided by Tom, a police officer who works at Scotland Yard.

However, Nicola said they have been told the area of the Barrett Street car park they had parked in was a “blind spot” for CCTV cameras.

- British tourists lose everything in campervan theft,, June 13, 2013.




About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.



Slash and burn?

Looking over your shoulder?

Low-hanging fruit?

Gone like hot cakes?


(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)



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