Challenge your CEO!

agile, blog, management30

Do you know the Chinese whispering game? In short: it is a children’s game in which players form a line, and the first player comes up with a message and whispers it to the ear of the second person in the line. The second player repeats the message to the third player, and so on. No surprise that almost always, the message is totally different at the end of the line.

I coach teams and organizations. Some of those organizations are very hierarchical, and there are several layers of management between the teams and the CEO. In many organizations, communication is also done via a line of people. The CEO has an idea, plan, message, etc. and shares this with his board. The individual members of the board share it with their management team. The members of that team share the message with their information and or team(s). As also with the Chinese Whispering game, the message has changed.

Billboard of Kodak
Kodak, was management challenged?

Often people wonder who came up with this assignment? Why do we need to deliver 42 pages of metrics, why do we suddenly need to change our way of working, etc.

We could discuss why organizations are organized like they are or that communication should be done differently — all valid questions or ideas. However, the reality is that some organizations are still organized as described above.

What happens most often is that people complain at the coffee machine, and just execute the request. Why? Do they get paid to stop thinking? I believe that you don’t get paid just to say yes. You get paid to, with respect, of course, give your opinion. If you are afraid to give your opinion for whatever reason… something is very wrong. I heard people saying: “If I would say no, I will lose my job,” or “She won’t accept no.” Really?

Probably your CEO asked for something completely different. Somewhere down the line, the message changed, and you are the first one to ask difficult questions. That is good, and keep asking those questions! If the organization doesn’t value this, time to move on!


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