German word of the day: Die Betriebsblindheit

Today's word is one typical to employees and companies which have resisted change.

German word of the day: Die Betriebsblindheit
Photo: depositphotos

The word means becoming blind of one's own shortcomings within a company – a routine way of working that isn't subject to self-criticism and hence change. 'Betrieb' here means the company.

Betriebsblindheit also exists as a noun, and in English is similar to organizational blindness or tunnel vision.

It is a lightly judgemental term, used critically or self-critically. Formerly a colloquial word, it is now also used as a warning in business administration.

Being betriebsblind can impair efficiency and lead to competitive disadvantages.

The occurrence of Betriebsblindheit is not limited to single employees, but can extend to whole departments of companies that have adopted a same 'ol, same 'ol way of working, not questioning methods or purpose of the work done.

People also tend to get betriebsblind in company structures that are both static and hierarchic. The fact that German has a special word for this phenomenon could be a result of many decades with a fairly quiet and partly unflexible job sector and the mentality of staying with one’s job for a long time.

By now, the word is generally used for the habit of taking actions merely based on routine.

It looks like these employees suffer from 'Betriebsblindheit'. Photo: depositphotos/AndreyPopov


Sie arbeitet da schon zehn Jahre, sie ist schon ganz betriebsblind.

She has worked there for 10 years already, and just blindly goes along with the work.

Wir haben in der Firma viel verändert, um Betriebsblindheit zu verhindern.

We changed a lot in the company, in order to prevent tunnel vision from occurring there.

Ich war wohl ein bisschen betriebsblind, deshalb ist mir diese gute Idee gar nicht gekommen.

I had a bit of tunnel vision in the company, and therefore couldn't come up with a good idea.

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German word of the day: Umstritten

Not everyone agrees on everything - and there are some things almost nobody can agree on. If you find yourself dealing with the latter, you may need to make use of this German word.

German word of the day: Umstritten

Why do I need to know umstritten?

Because umstritten is a handy word that can be applied to multiple situations, but is especially useful when chatting about current affairs or the big social issues of our day. 

You’ll likely come across it while reading articles in German newspapers, or hear your German friends use it while setting the world to rights in the pub. 

What does it mean?

Umstritten is best translated as “controversial” or “disputed” in English. As usual in German, you can easily work out – and remember – what it means by breaking it down into smaller components. 

The first is the prefix um, which tends to mean “around”. Think of German words like umkehren, which means to turn around or reverse, or umarmen, which means to put your arms around someone (or hug them in other words!). 

The second component is the verb streiten, which means to argue. So something that’s umstritten is something that there are lots of arguments around, like a controversial new law, a social debate or a public figure. 

Use it like this: 

Die Pläne der Regierung waren hoch umstritten.

The government’s plans were highly controversial. 

Sein Erbe als Fußballtrainer ist immer noch umstritten.

His legacy as football manager is still disputed today.