The Problem of the Ostrich

We all know about the so called “ostrich defense”. It is the urge to stick your head in the sand and hope that trouble passes you by. We all do this and sometimes intentionally. But we also do it unintentionally. That happens when we refuse to see things as they really are and insist that what we want to see is in fact what is there.

This is a recipe for producing prolonged conflict within and between organizations. That conflict arises when some wake up to a threat but others are locked into a mindset that blinds them to it. The newspaper industry in the US may be a good example of this.

What can one do? One thing is clear. These types of problems cannot be worked out by individuals working on their own. Only network effects can become powerful enough to match institutional inertia. So getting connected is a way to avoid getting trapped in conflicts that are much bigger than you are.

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