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Property Management Blog

What is Absence Blindness?

Mendell Gosnell - Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Why it Can Be Difficult to See Good Property Management at Work


This is a true story of a product manager tells a story about his time at Proctor & Gamble…


“Here’s a curious fact about human beings: we have a really hard time realizing that something isn’t there.


When I worked in P&G’s Home Care division, one of my first projects was testing the viability of a product that prevented things from getting dirty. You still had to clean, but it took more time for things to get dirty again, so the product saved the user significant time and effort.


Once the product went into testing, however, it was apparent that the idea wasn’t feasible. The product genuinely worked, but users didn’t realize it‐‐ they had a hard time believing the product worked, since they couldn’t see anything happening. After the test phase was complete, the project was canceled.” – Josh Kaufman


This is what’s called Absence Blindness.


Absence Blindness is a cognitive bias that prevents us from identifying what we can’t observe. Our brains have developed to perceive what is in our environment… not what isn’t. It is much easier to perceive things that are present then it is to notice things that are missing from our environment.


Another example of this phenomenon is soap. Dish soaps and shampoos are cleaning products that we interact with every day and we know they work because of the bubbles they produce… right? Wrong! The active ingredients in shampoo and dish soaps do not need to create bubbles and the ability to make bubble-less soap that cleans effectively has been around for years.


The challenge for product companies is that no one buys soap that doesn’t seem to be working. People assume that the soap is “working” because of the bubbles. The same is true of toothpaste. If you don’t “see” it working, you assume it isn’t. This couldn’t be further from the truth.


Great Property Management Can be Hard to Notice


On the face of it, that seems like a foolish statement. Of course, you would notice a high-quality property manager! In fact, what may be noticeable, if it is in fact noticed, is a lack of problems that need your attention. Those who are aware of this are those who have other experiences to compare to. If you have had to manage your own properties or worked with a property manager that didn’t do their job, you know the difference.


Great property managers are extremely effective at resolving issues before they become a problem that needs your attention. Some of the best managers in the world look like they’re not doing much, and yet everything gets done under budget and on time.


What most people don’t see is what an effective manager prevents from happening. While other managers may look busier, many of those problems may be avoidable with better management skills. If one manager is spending all day putting out fires, they look like they are working hard. Another manager that prevents those fires from happening not only does that managers job but also frees up time to notice and act upon other potential issues or challenges.



Here at Centurion, we strive to prevent the problems before they arise so that your property is a blessing, not a burden.

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