Where are You Nose Blind?

My wife Ali has a great sense of smell. I think it goes back to when she was pregnant and could smell frozen fruit from a mile away. Who can smell frozen fruit? It’s frozen! I think she ate most of the frozen fruit in the city during pregnancy.

Like the frozen fruit, Ali can also smell when our house is musty, funky, or stale. I smell house. Or rather,  I don’t smell house. I’m what you call “nose blind.”

What is nose blind? When I’m in a location, like our house, I don’t smell anything unless the dog did a naughty or something is on fire. Now, turn up or down the thermostat, and I can hear that before the button is released. Don’t be touching my thermostat!

This is not a medical problem. It is an olfactory problem – the sense of smell. When our nose smells something and finds that it is not a threat, it can turn off those smell receptors. Dog poo? Threat. Fire? Threat. Stale house? Not so much for me.

Some of our clients are in the food business, and new business can come from collaborations with other food companies. In these collaborations, they need outside taste testers because insiders are nose blind to the taste and smell of their own products.

So what does all this have to do with you and your company?

You are nose blind to something inside your company.

Why? Because at one time, that smell was not a threat, so you turned off those receptors to focus on things that were or are a threat. When your business smells musty, funky, and stale – all you smell is – house.

How to figure out if you are nose blind

  1. Go on vacation … a two week one

Now don’t stop reading because you’ve never taken two weeks off in a row in your life. First off, you should do that, especially this year. Second, time away from your business refreshes you and allows you the opportunity to come back energized and ready to go. AND when you walk back into your business, your smell receptors will be like new, and you’ll smell things you may not have noticed just a couple of weeks ago before you left.

  1. Ask your team – frequently

My wife is our canary in the coal mine when it comes to our house. Who do you trust to be that person for your company, divisions, and teams? Who has a good sense of smell about your business?

  1. Create and use a scorecard diligently

When someone else asks, “Do you smell that?” You stop and focus, and turn up your sense of smell. A scorecard can help your team focus on parts of the business that may be getting stale or smelling funny.

  1. Ask others

When you have a consultant, implementer, or partner come in, you can learn a lot about what is not working or broken in your business. Yes, they may tell you what you already know, but these can outsiders key in on bad relationships, lack of trust, musty, stinky, funky parts of your organization that you thought smelled fine yesterday and now know that there’s a dead squirrel in the attic.

The second quarter is 30 days old. Spring is in full effect, and summer is around the corner (along with your two-week vacation). Take the sniff test, ask others, and put processes in place so that you aren’t nose blind inside your business.

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper

Dan is a Partner and Growth Catalyst for Acumen, a mastermind community that exists to sharpen, challenge, and inspire CEOs and Owners through affinity-centric advisory teams, executive coaching, and leadership acceleration workshops.