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Becoming a First-Class Noticer

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My notes on how to spot and prevent ethical failures in your organization

Based on my reading of HBR article of the same title with a cocktail of my lessons learnt from multiple books and articles.

Identifying the challenges

We need to identify the key barriers that lead to failure of anyone to notice and take action can mean losing an important customer, losing market share or even ending up in jail.

Among the major barriers include:


We have our biases, and the most intriguing aspect of our biases is that we are often doesn’t even acknowledge that we might be biases.

As one of the lessons I’ve learnt from the wonderful book by Ray Dalio, The Principles, I tend to ask myself one simple question.

“How do I know I’m right?”

Motivated Blindness & Conflict of Interest

I think of it as the same as conflict of interest or when we have a vested interest in the situation. Hence, again, we need to be aware of our biases.

Biases is crucial in decision making, since no matter how well calibrated our moral compasses maybe, we might still be susceptible to motivated blindness.

Motivated blindness helps to explain why we think the best of our family members, friends, and colleagues and are disinclined to speak against those with influence in our offices and workplace.


It’s important to remember that others might try to intentionally mislead you.

Trust others, but never 100%.

Indirect Harm

When we are several steps removed from an ethical failure, we often fail to hold ourselves or those around us accountable.

Easy illustration of this concept, which I think also applicable to money management is that of a credit card. It’s far easier just to swipe your card rather than to pay in cash. The reason is we don’t feel the ‘pain’ of spending out hard earned money. Since the ‘pain’ is removed by a piece of plastic. Which is the reason why people tend to spend more using a credit card in comparison to cash.

So, beware of the vending machine that accept credit card payment.

It’s a trap!

HBR articles can be really dry, even Dr. Daniel Kahneman ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ is far more exciting reading than HBR articles. Hopefully, my notes will be beneficial for you but not as dry.

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