Dorothy and her friends didn’t listen when the Great and Powerful Oz told them to ignore that man behind the curtain. Sounds a lot like organizations today. Employees, customers and stakeholders don’t want the official version of things from the great and powerful, they want to see what is behind the curtain.
This is part of the reason that the idea of transparency is getting so much traction these days. Unfortunately it is not so easy to be transparent. I have seen many instances where it is the intent of an individual or group to be transparent, open and inclusive, the reality is usually a reticence to let go and divulge the full story. The reasoning varies:
- I don’t want anyone to see it until it is finished
- People can’t handle the truth (to paraphrase Jack Nicholson)
- Everyone is too busy to get more information
- Above your pay grade
- We will give it to them when the timing is right
The truth is that these are all excuses for not wanting to give up control. And none of these reasons will deliver better results than just putting it all out in the open.
The major flaw in most major “change initiatives” is waiting too long before bringing “those to be changed” into the conversation. Anytime you see a situation where the first notice the general population gets about some big new change is during the “deployment and adoption phase”, you will see a high probably of failure of the initiative.
The right time to go public with a pending change is when there are still decisions to be made, and everyone has the chance to voice their opinion.
The enterprise social software (ESS) corollary of this is that everyone needs a view into the process while the conversation is still about determining business needs, and prior to the determination of tools and process. If the first time your employees hear about Quad or another ESS product is when it is being rolled out, your odds of success have been drastically reduced.