As you prepare to sell your company do you have some biases that you don’t know about? 

Have you heard the story about the blind men and the elephant?  It’s a classic that has versions in many cultures including Indian, Chinese and African.  Here’s the story: 

There was a group of friends who were blind from birth talking amongst themselves about what an elephant looks like.  An elephant’s keeper heard them and offered to let them touch his well-trained animal so they could understand what an elephant was.  They shared their observations with each other as they investigated.  

The first man was positioned at the head of the elephant.  He touched the trunk and told his friends that an elephant is like a snake.  It has a tubular body that is very flexible with the ability to grasp things at its end.  The second man was located at the tail of the elephant.  He said the elephant was like a rope.  It had a long narrow form with a tuft of hair at the end.  It was stiff and could be used like a whip. The third man was located at the stomach of the elephant.  He described it as a huge leathery expanse with tree stumps holding it up.  A huge argument ensued with each man insisting his was the correct view of the elephant.  Finally, the wise keeper interceded and told them that they were all right.  The elephant was made up of all those parts and that they were somewhat right and somewhat wrong at the same time.  They each had version of the truth, but not the complete picture.  The truth often is that we can see what we can see but we can’t see what we can’t see. 

These biases that blind us to the whole picture of ourselves and our companies. It’s easier for others to see the “whole picture” than it is for us to see what is missing.  Unfortunately, we know that it’s human nature to assume that we are correct in our own judgement.  This comes into play when sellers are evaluating their company for sale.  We’ve run across Sellers who didn’t have an accurate way of assessing their own strengths and weaknesses before going to market.  Imagine the disconnect when potential buyers start doing an assessment and opening up all of the “blind spots”. 

“What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” — Warren Buffet

The Johari window is a simple and effective model created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 to assist us in working through some of these issues.  The model describes the process of human interaction and allows us to see in four quadrants how we see each other and ourselves and can help us improve our “blind spots”.

Open Area = Public Knowledge.  We pretty much can all see these things as can everyone else. 

(This is called Arena is some versions.) 

Hidden Area = Mask.  This is Private information that you share or hide from others. 

Blind Area = Blind Spots or Blind Self.  This is what others know about you that you don’t see about yourself. 

Unknown Area = Unconscious.  In this area, neither you nor others know these things. 

Do you have any “blind spots”?  We can and do help our clients know as many of those as possible (and take action, if needed) as you prepare to sell.  If you’d like to discuss your situation, selling or buying a business or preparing your business for sale, please let us know. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, I can be reached anytime via email: [email protected] or phone at: 224-688-8838.

We’re here to Help you Harvest your Potential.

Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio