The Invisible Gorilla

If you haven’t seen this before, have a look at the following video found on the internet and count how many times the white players pass the ball.

This video and similar ones started making their way across the     internet many years ago. You yourself probably have seen it. If you haven’t, you probably understand the title of this post now.

Our ability to narrow our focus is extraordinary. When concentrating on something, our mind can filter out all background information. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad. I have been known by my wife to not hear our crying son when he was born while in heavy concentration and then get that look. He’s six now, so all is good. This can happen in our work lives. We get so focused on getting the job done, that we lose sight what is happening around us. Is our team happy? Are we actually generating value for our customer? Are we delivering what the customer needs or just following the plan?

There is no point saying that we are intelligent people, and we should know better. I’ve recently come across an experiment which used radiologists as the subjects. Radiologists are those people that look over your X-Rays and MRIs and look for signs of cancer. These people have to be highly intelligent, detail driven and very very focused.

The experiment was simple, they were given a series or X-Rays and MRIs to look for cancer.  They were given an X-Ray that is similar to this one:

Notice anything strange in the X-Ray?

There is a Gorilla in the top right hand portion of the chest x-ray. Yeah, I missed it too when I first saw this, even though the image quality was better.  The thing is that over 83% of the Radiologists that took part in the experiment also missed the gorilla.

The lesson here is that sometimes you need to stand back survey what you are doing and try to see what you are missing because you never know if there are any gorillas hiding in plain sight.

For more information on the Invisible Gorilla experiment see:

Article on NPR.

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