transparency

No iPad in the Bathroom, pt 2

Does everyone in your workplace know what your mission is? Do you trust them to understand it and act upon it within the context of their ability, curiosity, and passion? Then give them a story to tell.

Left screen shows event calendar for Bucketworks, and network speed. Right screen shows twitter updates for members.Instead of thinking about, and investing in, the tools, culture, and process inherent to secrecy, enable the people in your company to share their stories where everyone in the workplace can see them--anytime. Make as many facts available as you can, and keep making it easier for your employees to find, analyze, and contribute to those facts.

Make it mandatory to blog, and you are bringing the company into the bathroom. Make it hard to edit "the intranet," and you're taking the soap out of the dispenser. Give your employees a file server, and the garbage can is always full of slightly used paper towel.

What if you put a shelf in the bathroom with a nice hand wash dispenser, a couple of nice, fine linen washcloths, and velcroed an iPad to the wall, directly above the shelf? Then anyone can add their piece after they've added their piece. You are listening to people where they are. (And if the crapper analogy seems too crass for you, think of the water cooler or the hallway or the elevator. Where does everyone have to go anyway? Go there and give your employees the tools they can use to share there.)

What is the risk? There's math we can use to quantify the risk. The risk is measurable using the ruler of your company's social media policy. Are you afraid your employees will out secrets that could damage your bottom line, if you encourage them to use social media? Go ahead, admit it. You are afraid they will talk about you behind your back. Too late.

The only reason they are doing it in the crapper instead of your office or the conference room is because you've created an environment without full transparency and flexibility. 

Collaborate in a transparent information environment. Make all of the substance of work visible to everyone in the organization, even down to the level of compensation, accounting, and cost. The initial mistakes of perception that lead to bad outcomes--customer loss, employee loss, missed deadlines, litigation--are far less likely to occur in this environment. The risk of error goes down over time the more attention dedicated people pay to anything. 

People who want to do bad things don't like the light, and tend to self-select away from such environments. No one will have to police your culture if it is always visible. This leaves your organization free to focus on its mission, which will increase its value over time to your employees and their families, your customers and their customers, and your community.

 Today, all of your employees are guaranteed to have one mission in common: taking a crap. What can you do to make the cultural, social, and communications foundation of your company's mission as certain as that?