Making the unknown known and the invisible visible

What happens when things are not as visible and transparent as you would like them to be?
What happens when things are overlooked or bypassed altogether?
These are both good questions to ponder every now and then.
This week I was incredibly saddened to hear about RCR Tomlinson entering voluntary administration.
I was saddened for a number of reasons, firstly because I know people who worked there, and secondly because it has been a successful organisation for such a long time.  It makes you wonder about how organisations of that size, maturity and capability can get things so wrong.
I guess in the case of RCR only time will tell as to why things went wrong.
In general terms, when things are not transparent and visible, or when things get missed or are unknown and unseen, it can be incredibly frustrating for those involved and it can be incredibly damaging to the organisation.

When we engage with clients we often ask them two specific questions:

  1. “How do you know what you don’t know?”
  2. “How can we ensure you know what you need to know?”

They are really big questions and the answers are often simpler than you think.  There are also some basic things that you can put in place so the invisible becomes visible and there is little about your organisation that is unknown.

Here are 7 tips for making things more visible and transparent.

  1. Create an environment where everyone can see what they need to do, how to manage and how to measure it.
  2. Leverage communication and collaboration across functional teams and ensure management hierarchies don’t get in the way of decision making and information flows.
  3. Understand the data and information flow requirements of every business process and how each process adds value and attracts risk.
  4. Foster behaviours that build transparency and visibility. It can be as simple as asking the question “did you know?”
  5. Highlight and remove unnecessary complexity and bureaucracy.
  6. Make accountabilities and responsibilities clear. You may want to look back on my previous blog for some pointers

The above are all simple things to do to drive better transparency and visibility and make the unknown known.  If only more organisations put them into play.  Let me know in the comments space below if there are others you would add to the list.
Call me if your organisation could do with assistance in getting better visibility and insight and making the unknown known.