Do you believe in tight control and short leashes or do you believe people can make the right decisions themselves? Do you believe that the organization will drift into anarchy if you leave it up to the people to decide?
One of the core assumptions in Lean and Agile, in my humble opinion, is that we believe people are responsible and know what a good or a bad decision is in the circumstances they operate. If people are making bad decisions the leaders in the organization should look at what are the circumstances that lead the responsible people to make such a decision. And what can you as a leader do to change those circumstances so a better decision should have been made.
Making information transparent and available to people in the organization is one way to help people make better decisions. Hiding information in the dark will lower trust and create a space for thieves and crooks to operate more safely.
There are organizations that have thrown away their control systems for controlling things like travel expenses. They at the sometime made everyone’s travel expenses public. You may suspect that this led to higher travel expenses as everyone would travel in first class and stay at the most expensive hotels. But no. The results are the opposite. Travel expenses often go down or stray the same. When everyone can see what everyone else is spending there is less room for the thief and crook behavior, because everyone can see it.
There are even organizations have taken away their tradition cost control systems, the yearly budget. By doing so and at the same time make the spending of money transparent the organizations starts to self-regulate. Finding the right balance between cost and income in the different parts of the organization.
But what if people are not making the right decisions. What If everyone travels first class and are spending like drunken sailors, as Bjarte Bogsnes use to say in his great book Implementing Beyond Budgeting: Unlocking the Performance Potential? Then you as the leader has to lead by example. Show the organizations values, show the wanted direction. Don’t blame the people. Don’t create a control system. Show the direction and lead by example.
“Transparency is the new control system.”
Jeremy Hope, cofounder of the Beyond Budgeting Round Table
This is my Lean/Agile Advent Calendar. I will publish a short post on a Lean/Agile topic every day up until Christmas. I will based each days topic on what is behind the door in the LEGO® City Advent Calendar. So be sure to check back every day!
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