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What’s obvious to you may not be obvious to others

It still amazes me that something so obvious to me can be so far from obvious to others.  You’ve probably found the same thing, and this is where opportunities and risks lay in your business.

A quick example is when I recently went on a short holiday stay to an Air B&B property.  There was a page of instructions on the coffee table…but how many people bother to look at them?  I’m probably one of the few to glance through!

The very last item said, “In the instance of fire, you can find the extinguisher in the brown cabinet.”

What if there’s a fire and you haven’t read the instructions or can’t remember what the instructions said, and you can’t see an extinguisher anywhere? 

I opened the brown cabinet to look at the extinguisher. Here’s what I saw:

Can you spot the fire extinguisher?  It’s in there, well-hidden at the back top left, ironically behind the candles…the things that may cause a fire in the first place.

But, “Oh”, you may say, “that type of thing wouldn’t happen in a real business!”  Well, here’s what I found in a real business (one of Australia’s largest) with a broad-based multi-cultural workforce, with many who don’t read and write English.

Yes, they did have extinguishers located elsewhere on walls and posts, but the ones shown here were in the production area. Consider what may happen if a fire suddenly started nearby. What mistake might someone, who doesn’t read and write English, make in the heat of the moment (yes, pun intended)?  Certainly they could grab an empty extinguisher and waste time trying to get it to work!

I’ve found many similar types of risks that go unnoticed or unactioned by others, and likewise I’ve found many time saving and money saving opportunities at a glance. A new set of eyes always makes a difference, and so does a defined process for ‘looking’, especially when it comes to safety.

When it comes to safety, the buck stops with senior management, so it’s worth protecting your workers, your business assets, and yourself by looking deeper.  Don’t put it off! Schedule a regular time in your calendar to ‘go look and see’, and take someone with a fresh and trained set of eyes with you, ideally someone who is unfamiliar with the areas you are walking through…and do it not just looking for risks, but also looking for opportunities.


We often serve as a great set of fresh eyes for many businesses and would be happy to discuss how we could be of value to you and your business. Simply email us at to start the conversation.

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