A leader's role in enabling transparency

 

You Need to Know the Answers

Organizational performance depends on effective flow of information. And because of that, transparency is one of the key success factors.

But what does transparency really mean to an organization? And where exactly is transparency needed the most? What can hinder transparency and what needs to be done in order to prevent that from happening? As a leader, you need to know the answers. 

Examples of Missing Transparency

Today’s teams have to deal with complexity and because of that, important things may quickly get obscure and spin out of control. 

So, for example, two teams that are working on a same complex task, but not frequently integrating with each other, may very quickly accumulate a tremendous amount of rework. Without frequent integration, each team will quickly lose sight of what the other one is doing. Frequent integration in this case is a way to establish vital transparency. 

Similarly, a team that is working on new capabilities but not demonstrating their progress to the customer, will fall a victim of obscurity that will likely result in unsatisfied expectations and substantial rework.

A leader that is not sharing detailed vision of the upcoming work, creates obscurity that will cause misalignment and mediocre team results. 

Dimensions Where Transparency Is Needed

So, transparency is needed in multiple dimensions. 

Between teams and the management, between high-profile stakeholders and middle managers, between teams and special subject matter experts, between teams and the customer, and so on.

Transparency is needed to know what to build, who to build it for, how to build it, how are we progressing in building it, who else is involved and what’s their function, what ultimate goals are being pursued, what problems have arisen that require close attention and what opportunities have emerged that we could take advantage of?   

Discovering Where Transparency Is Missing

Now, you would probably like to know where transparency is missing in your environment? 

Here’s a little problem: it may be really hard for a leader to see where the organization lacks transparency precisely because of transparency issues. 

So, to have your organization become more productive, you will have to apply some effort to discover the blind spots. And you will have to involve others in the process. And in so doing, as a leader, you must ensure a proper level of psychological safety, otherwise the effort of identifying and repairing transparency issues may produce adverse effect on the organization. Besides, you will have to question many assumptions that you and other participants of the process have developed. Certainty bias is a number one obstacle to transparency. And when you take a fair inventory of assumptions, you may discover that what has been believed to be a good product or feature idea may not exactly be so; or what has been considered as a good progression of teams on the current project, may have nothing to do with the real state of affairs with that effort; or what we believed would be a great architecture to a new service or product, in fact, is going to collapse under its own weight. 

You will discover this by relentlessly seeking empirical evidence as opposed to just opinions and promises. 

And your decisions as a leader will become a lot more effective. 

Taking the Next Step

Thanks for watching this video on a very important topic. 

There is much more to establishing transparency. But make the first step by exploring where exactly transparency is missing the most and what would be the simplest action to improve it.

Alex Yakyma

Alex Yakyma is the author of “Pursuing Enterprise Outcomes” and “The Rollout”. As a consultant, Alex is helping enterprises succeed with complex challenges. Throughout his career, he operated in multi-cultural, highly distributed environments. Alex has trained a large number of change agents and leaders whose key role is to help their organizations achieve higher effectiveness at pursuing business outcomes.

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