Innovation, Can there be Trust without Transparency?

May 19, 2014 Association InsightsEmotional IntelligenceGreen SolutionsPeer Powered Performance  No comments

warm fires of familiarity

Despite endless exhortation of organizational innovation only 9% of U.S. companies are considered innovative.  The problem is not an absence of talent but an undermining of trust.  Innovation requires risk, failure is a fact and fear keeps most close to the warm fires of familiarity.  The initiative to improve is successfully smothered by systems steeped in secrecy, committed to control and failing fabulously to do anything even remotely revolutionary.

Most efforts for organizational improvement are intent on altering appearances instead of recognizing reinforcements.   There are always benefits to bad behaviors the key is to find how you are fueling the fire. 

The problem is not the people but the process.

On a personal level we focus on changing “what-we-do” believing “who-we-are” will follow.  The results of each of these tried and tried and tried again processes is particularly pathetic.

  • 70% of organizational change initiatives ultimately fail

  • The average person makes the same New Year’s resolution 10 times without success.

  • 95% of those who lose weight on a diet regain it.

The same ineffectual ideology applies to our pursuit of happiness.  We believe success will make us happy when the truth is happy people attract success.

The key is to stop focusing on the crust and dig deeply for the core.  Toyota popularized a system called the “5 Whys”  but it is not the .  The first important lesson here is that “The Five Whys” are not intentional aspirations but operational systemizations.  They are not subject to sentiment, considered only when convenient or practiced when they are politically popular.  They are an agreement for all.

Everyone is immersed in the understanding and expected to exercise its’ intellectual vigor at all levels by every employee.  Management is not expected to lead by positional authority but through organizational integrity.    Daniel Kahneman would define this as System Two discipline putting truth before taglines where honesty is not an assessment of morality but a function of clarity.

The first thing we should be absolutely clear about is that regardless of our superior intellect or elevated authority none of us see anything clearly.

We are all delusional, we are all liars and we lie all the time.

This is not a result of intentional deception but physiological reception.   Survival has designed our minds to take shortcuts in the form of almost 100 biases and heuristics.  Each simplifying supposition serves a purpose.  When applied in exactly the right circumstance they save lives by skipping steps.  But sometimes it is these steps that help us find a new and better path.

The solution to reaping the benefits of our biases without their accompanying blind-spots is the acuity of inclusion.  When a diverse group of vested individuals is included in the decision making process personal perception is balance by group reflection.

None of us are as smart as all of us.  Or as I heard this past week as a comment on the occasional dysfunction of family by ABC’s Robin Roberts.

 “We may not have it all together but together we have it all.”

My admittedly incomplete ideas for application are:

  1. Superficial solutions don’t solve systemic problems

  2. People (most people) don’t start out deliberately deceptive

  3. Bad behavior is a cultural cancer.  Cut it out or cure the cause.

  4. Innovation involves everyone

  5. To try we have to trust

  6. Trust is earned through transparency not prescribed by policy.

  7. Transparency is not accurate communication but intimate, intentional conversation.

Cultures are a reflection of the systems they embrace.
If you want engagement, embrace inclusion.
All levels, all opinions, all people, all processes, all the time.

Bad behaviors cannot be educated out, nor can good ones be trained in.  Habits are far to engrained to be changed from the top down or outside in.  Whether it is changing exercise habits, service standards or leadership qualities sustainable transformation must come from groups “wanting to” find the solutions for themselves.  This is the essence of Peer Powered Performance™.  It is a systemic approach combining education, collaboration and illustration to change the energy of an organization by changing the contents of the conversations.

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