woman looking for something in the light of a lightbulb

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Is your problem solving biased?

A policeman sees a drunk man searching for something under a streetlight and asks what the drunk has lost. He says he lost his keys and they both look under the streetlight together. After a few minutes the policeman asks if he is sure he lost them here, and the drunk replies, no, and that he lost them in the park. The policeman asks why he is searching here, and the drunk replies, "this is where the light is".

This anecdote is known as the streetlight effect, or the drunkard’s search. It demonstrates our propensity to only look for things where they are easy to find.

Oftentimes, when we ask the leaders and organizations that we work with what they are looking to achieve and what is getting in the way, there is a litany of obstacles that come to mind. 

If only:
  • my staff/colleagues/partners/donors/ got it
  • they understood
  • we had the time
  • we had good people
  • the board would get out of my way
  • the competition wasn’t undercutting the sector
 
It has happened, but rarely do we hear, if only:
  • I was more aware of how I am showing up and its negative impact on the team
  • we prioritized the right things
  • focused on the process rather than the outcome
  • we had crucial conversations with whomever that might be
  • had the managerial courage to fire high performing toxic people 
  • we had a growth mindset as an organization
 
Imagine the impact of digging deep into the root of problems and opportunities within your organization and less into a long list of symptoms. The easy route may feel cathartic and allow you to notionally take yourself off the hook. But asking yourself the tough questions, with a stiff look in the organizational mirror and a trip to the park may just lead you out of the dark. The shift from the streetlight of easy to the actualizing light of clarity.

Peter Georgariou

CEO & Founder

With over 18 years of experience in sales, marketing and operations, Peter enjoys helping businesses establish the proper structures, strategies and marketing plans to help them achieve their goals and dreams. He is helping them make the most of their potential and ability to impact the communities in which they live.

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