The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Developing transparency

A few days ago, I was in a conversation with a peer. His team had complained that they didn’t understand the way promotions were being decided and how to see their progress. To address the situation, he provided all the information available to him. Which also gave him a lot of appreciation from his team for his transparency. He, however, remained astonished about the need for this transparency as, to him, all the information was available to the team.

There are many ways to interpret the situation and see what might have led to this situation. But a good starting point is to think about the available information.

Ed Batista suggests using the image of three different buckets to categorize information. They are “the information one knows and can share,” “the information one knows and cannot share,” as well as “the information one doesn’t know.”

What I find most helpful in this distinction is the way one relates to these three buckets as well as how they can be perceived by the team. As Ed describes well these categories also require a reflection process. It is needed to become aware of the bucket and why one handles it as one does.

I think that there is a fourth bucket.

It contains “the information one could know but has not made oneself aware of.” Some of that information becomes available through questions the team or other people ask. It is also information that can be gained by reflecting on the situation one is in, or in allowing oneself not to know but become aware of. One could call this bucket the blind spot, but I wouldn’t. The blind spot is often interpreted as something one cannot do anything about. That’s not the case for everything in that bucket.

The transparency on the other three buckets can contribute to an atmosphere of openness and willingness to exchange in the team. The leader’s willingness to share what he doesn’t know and be humble about it can create an incentive in the team to share the information available to them without expecting the leader or others to know everything.

In such a team, it quickly becomes clear that the experience my peer shared goes beyond the lack of information.








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