“How long will it take you to finish the project?” In unhealthy organizations the employee thinks they’re being smart by padding their answer. Instead of the six months they believe they would need, they create a faux sense of safety by adding three. “Nine,” is their answer.

Their manager, in turn, is asked by their senior leader, “How much time do you need?” Like the employee who is afraid of the consequences of perceived failure, they conceal the truth and add three more months: “It will take us a year.”

The project, of course, is not executed in a vacuum. So, when this senior leader sits with their peers and they begin the process of coordinating enterprise projects a problem has been created: With everyone inflating the resources required to execute it’s impossible to predict with accuracy what the organization can deliver. And those holding the money used to accelerate execution don’t know where to invest the money to break the bottlenecks: Because they don’t have the truth.

It’s a foolish exercise asking employees to be transparent or tell the complete truth if they work in a culture where people don’t get promoted if they miss deadlines. Transparency is a currency. People will provide the truth in exchange for something everyone covets: safety.

When creating plans it might be worth asking: “What can I give you in exchange for your full truth?”

Is the plan you’re building built on facts?



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