Seeing the blind spots

Salient questions are an antidote for blind spots. 

But how can we get in the habit of asking better questions?


Maybe someday in the future somebody will build a ?-shaped learning center to emphasize the value of asking better questions when making important decisions.

A major “aha!” occurred for me about 15 years ago as I began to absorb the decision-making research of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their “loss aversion” theory focused on “people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains.

In 2002, Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work (with Tversky, who died in 1996) on cognitive biases.

The significance of Kahneman’s work is highlighted by Janice Gross Stein in this Globe and Mail review of his recent book, Thinking, Fast and Slow:

“It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Daniel Kahneman’s contribution to the understanding of the way we think and choose…Kahneman has reshaped cognitive psychology, the analysis of rationality and reason, the understanding of risk and the study of happiness and well-being.”

Understanding loss aversion and cognitive bias research is vital for innovators who seek to attract support for their ideas. In my view, it underlines the importance of asking investigative questions in every encounter with potential clients, as well as with current project stakeholders. Otherwise, we may hear what we want to hear, interpret meanings that mislead us, and frame our pitches in ways that intimidate our audience unnecessarily.

– Sharon VanderKaay


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