Why you need to be more transparent

Wardley’s Doctrine

In this short series of short articles we’ve focused on how to develop high-Adaptivity Intelligence (AQ) in your organisation— so it’s able to respond to change quicker and more effectively than rivals. The first step is to use maps. Once you have maps you can start adopting universally useful habits and skills — principles — that AQ is built on (see picture). Let’s take a look at another of these principles — having a ‘bias towards openness’.

If you want to learn about what’s really going on inside your organisation and in the wider environment outside your windows you need to share your maps. Sharing enables others — people with different perspectives, skillsets and knowledge — to question and challenge your assumptions, which is critical if the organisation is to learn, develop and improve.

The downside of sharing is that it allows others to question your assumptions and many find this uncomfortable. Many CEOs are uncomfortable whenever someone challenges his/her ideas. They take it personally and see it as a threat to their authority. But the business world has become too uncertain for any CEO to be aware of all the threats the organisation faces or the opportunities that are emerging. So it’s a wise leader who encourages people to point out if s/he is walking their troops into minefield, or missing the quicker path to vicotry the rather than discovering it the hard way themselves.

Don’t underestimate how difficult transparency is within an organisation though. But do be aware of the advantages of committing your ideas to a map so you can bring the wisdom of your crowd online to challenge it. This is what makes a leader successful in the new economy of knowledge and uncertainty.

This short article is part of a series exploring what ‘next generation’ organisations do that your organisation possibly doesn’t. There are 40 universally-useful habits and principles that highly-adaptive organisations (those with high AQ) employ. And there’s no reason why your organisation can’t adopt them too. In fact, you probably have to if you want to survive and thrive in a fast-changing world.

Links to other articles in this series are here:

  1. What do ‘next generation’ organisations do that you don’t?
  2. Focus on high situational awareness
  3. Use a common language
  4. Why challenging assumptions matters