First let me start by giving my definition of Transparency.
To me transparency is about truth and knowledge. The knowledge of what we need to do in order to be successful, and the truth about our actual performance.
Many initiatives fail before they even start! This is because the effort involved has been underestimated or because if wasn’t clear what was needed in order to be successful. According to Gartner Research on average, projects end up costing 3 times the initial estimate. These initiatives tend to be like icebergs, we can all see the 1/3rd that’s above the water, but it’s the 2/3rd below the water that cause the ship to sink.
I run marathons and people often tell me that they could never run 26.2 miles. Now whilst that might be true, this is only the tip of the marathon running iceberg. Marathon running involves running 4-5 days per week and training for around 6 months, often running over 500 miles in training. This is what’s needed to run a marathon, not just the 26.2 miles on the day of the race. So even if you’re in great shape, if you can’t sign up for the 6 months training then, in all likelihood, you will fail on the day of the race.
We need to make sure that we have done our due diligence, whatever the initiative or project we are involved in, we need to make sure we have lifted up the carpet, checked under the hood and we have identified 100% of whats needed to be successful, and that we haven’t just settled for third we can see above the water. Otherwise we will most likely fail.
Once we have the full transparency and knowledge of what needs to be done in order to be successful, then we need to have accurate visibility into our performance.
Without visibility into our performance it is like we are running a race blind folded, and when we do that after a few minutes we have no clue where we are, where the competition is, or the direction for the finishing line, yet somehow we still believe we are going to be successful.
This is just folly.
We need to have full and accurate visibility into our performance, we need to know every month whether we are on track or not, and if not, then we need to adjust our approach in order to get back on track. If we are on track then we need to use that to motivate ourselves and our teams to keep going and finally achieve our goals.
If our goal is to generate $120k of profit in the calendar year, then we need to be measuring whether we made $10k profit, each and every month, as thats the only way to arrive at a profit over $120k for the year.
Too often when I coach businesses I find that they don’t have accurate performance reports, or even worse, they are measuring the wrong things. Without measurement we can end up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
I found this out personally in a very painful way. I was running the Athens marathon, over the original course, starting at Marathon and finishing in the Olympic stadium in the centre of Athens.
Up to this point my best ever marathon was 5hrs and 2 minutes, and I was looking to break the 5 hour barrier over this historic course. After 23 miles I was slightly ahead of schedule, but then disaster struck, the battery on my iphone died, which meant now I have no transparency into my performance. I lacked visibility into how fast i was running or for how long i had been running. I tried to maintain my pace, but it was impossible to know how I was doing. When I finally crossed the line I had completed the race in 5hrs and 9 seconds. I’d failed to achieve my goal all because I lacked the visibility into performance. I had success within my grasp and I let it slip away all for the sake of just 9 seconds.
When we have the right transparency, then we know 100% what we need to do to be successful and we have an accurate picture of our progress each and every month, and when we have both of these things then we put ourselves on the road to success.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/59222181@N03/6087838076″>Iceberg in Paradise Harbour, Antarctica</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
- 10 C’s of Leadership - January 5, 2016
- Why Transparency Is Important? - November 9, 2015
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