Transparency into organizations

When I am put in charge of a project I normally start asking questions. I ask a lot of questions because the more I know the easier it is for me to understand what is expected the project to be. And sometimes the questions that I made seem to be not so much correlated with the project itself. This is typical of my style of doing things. I want to have clear in mind the full picture of the project, starting from the customer needs, the reasons for the request, the country where the product will be sold and so on. But I want to know more. I want to know the expectations of the customer, of the company management, of the potential customers and so on. Basically in mind I want to create the best picture as possible, like a Prezi presentation, a big picture where you can zoom in and see all the small details and even more. If you do not give me all the information I need, of course the result of my project will be less accurate, or let’s say, less effective.

The same is valid for all organizations in general. The more you know about the organization, the more efficient you could be in meeting the organization expectations, the more easily you will be integrated into the organization itself. Unfortunately I should say that in this case there is a big difference between the delivering of information for a technical project and the delivering of organization information in general.

In the case of a technical project when I ask questions the result is very simple – or I get the answer or I will not get the answer because the answer is still unknown (and sometimes is part of the project to find it out). In the case of information within organization, the situation is a little more “blurry” – sometimes you receive the answer, sometimes you will not because this information is “reserved”. Or even worst, sometimes it is better to don’t even ask questions on that subject.

All this comes to the tile of this post. The transparency into organizations. There is great post with title: “Transparency is the New Leadership Imperative” which speaks about the modern concept of leadership and transparency.

As I said before, if you want to be really effective and manage at best all the resources that you have you must know the full picture together with the small details. And your team and your employes are the most important resource that you have and should be put in the best possible condition to drive your company to the global competition. In order to do that the sharing of information between the organization, with no secrets and with complete transparency, is the key factor to be competitive. Of course the way that you deliver the information is very important and is the crucial factor for having excellent managers into the company.

The old style companies where the top level management knows the most, than the middle managers know less but have to report everything, and the low level employees know almost nothing is over. This model of business could still survive for a while. But in the nowadays society where there is an excess of information and the channels for delivering information are so diversified and easy to use the real challenge is not keep information for yourself but it is to be able to distribute the information as best as possible. An excellent manager today is not anymore the one with experience but is the one able to transfer experience, the one able to facilitate the delivering of information at all levels of the organization itself.

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Information within organizations

I have always looked at the information concept from an Engineering point of view. In particularly in my mind the concept of information is correlated with the telecomunication concept of “bit”. As it is indicated in Wikipedia – A bit (a contraction of binary digit) is the basic unit of information in computing and telecommunications; it is the amount of information stored by a digital device or other physical system that exists in one of two possible distinct states.
In particular in telecommunication the most important goal to achieve is to trasfer the maximum quantity of information with the minimum occupied bandwidth or in other words to limit as much as possible the use of the channel or the media necessary for transfering the information.
I think that in our social life we do almost the same, basically we try to transfer the maximum possible information with the minimum effort and the minimum amount of energy. Of course there are a lot of us who enjoy to speak and to interact with other people but in that cases the interaction is mainly driven by the pleasure that this social interaction is giving to us more than the necessary efforts to trasfer the information.

I think that this concept is applicable also to the organizations where the exchange of information between the members is the key point for creating succesful business organizations.

The biggest problems that organization are facing is the effectiveness of the exchange of information between the employees, with customers, with suppliers and with everybody in general.

Everybody when is in the process of exchanging information is more focused in what has been sent, more than in what is received from the opposite site. For example when I meet someone I’m more focused in saying my name than in listening the name that has been told to me. And probably nobody is focused in checking if the listener have really listened, understood or remembered correctly our name. People is more focused on delivering the necessary quantity of information than on the verification of correct reception from the other side.

It is matter of perspective that is absolutely essential in order to improve our relations with others. If you start thinking in this way, then probably you will also realize that sending an e-mail does not necessary mean that the information has reached the target (Don’t send an e-mail, get the job done). You will realize that telling things to the people does not necessary means that they have understood the meaning of what has been told. You will realize also that a huge amount of information could saturate the channel (the listener attention) and result in a not efficient transfer of information.

How many times the people says -“I have told him to do this” or “I have sent him an e-mail, he is not answering me” or “I have clearly expressed the concept to my colleagues” and so on. But the we must change our perspective and sometimes I’ll try to push people to change perspective so I made the following questions – “Are you sure that he has understood what you told him?” or “Are you sure he read your e-mail and understood clearly your point of view?” or “yes, you have expressed your point of view, but is it agreed by your colleagues, is it clear to them?” Sometimes with that questions people looks a little bit displaced, as if the new point of view is new and unusual. Probably it means that I reached my objective – force to check the information from the receiver point of view.

This concept could seem obvious but I believe that a good leader should keep this in mind and repeat to itself continuously that it is absolutely important to look at the transfer of information from the listener perspective more than the transmitter of the information.

Investing time in the process of improving the exchange of information within organizations is a key point for the success of the organizations themselves. I think that with the global competition, with the increase of media channels for communications and with the expanding of the customers base around the world, the efficient transfer of information will be the key point for the success of future leading companies.