Fake information has been around in organizations for more than two decades. It has had a devastating impact on the way that organizations function. In this brief post, I will document frequent manifestations of fake information which I have encountered in my consulting career in North America, the Mid East, Europe and Asia.
- Fake commitments. Company A competes for a tender by promising to deliver non existing product features in an impossible time frame. The tender is won, and the delivery as promised never really happens, or is delivered as a so called “phased delivery” in a long and painful process of de-commitment.
- Fake planning. As a result of the fake commitments, aggressive deadlines are driven down to the troops in Company A in order to deliver the non existent product features on time. The nerds provide feigned agreement to the plans. As due date comes, things start to “slip” and no one is really surprised. New nerds are recruited, only to slow down the development process. Lessons learned passes off the blame left, right and centre, but never to the initial original sin of a fake commitment.
- Fake team work In order to drive costs down, people from all over the world are recruited to work in virtual teams. These teams are negatively impacted by trust issues, language issues and cultural differences. However these difficulties are patched up with fake team work, a series of pyrotechnical activities which sort of, or sort of not, “put us all on the same page”. As a result, the hidden agendas flourish mainly under the surface, where they are harder to observe and treat.
- Fake wellness Caving in to management gurus as well as slick salesmanship and fads, organizations hide their intention of getting “more for less” via “wellness programs” for those nerds caught up in the above scenarios. These programs perfume the pig by better nutrition, gym membership preferably on-site, and perhaps breathing exercises.
- Lies in due diligence No where are there more blatant lies than in the due diligence phase before certain (though not all, obviously) mergers, aka acquisitions. The acquired company misrepresents its product, assets, liabilities, market share and pipeline in often a (desperate) effort to find a perfect “suitor” who can inject cash and put them out of their financial, client-related or technical misery.
- Mergers There are no mergers. Just acquisitions.
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- Both societies, at least at face value, appear as task focused and fast moving with a semi -Western veneer. Yet, when you scratch a little bit, the Western veneer disappears and therein lies a web of intense relationship based networks which serves as the great enabler. So both in Singapore and Israel, you do not always see what you get.
- Both business cultures are survival driven: paranoid, focusing on the urgent and very flexible in the crisis mode.
- Singaporeans and Israelis both adapt themselves to others rather than expect the other to change.
- Israelis show a basic lack of respect to authority. Singaporeans will generally show apparent deference, expressing differences of opinions “wrapped up” in respect.
- Israelis often tell clients “what they need” ; Singaporeans will make more of an effort to provide clients with what they want, albeit they know that the client could benefit from something else.
- Israelis have little tolerance for face saving behaviours, which are part and parcel of doing business with Singaporeans. Needless to say, Israelis find Singapore less focused on face than the Chinese or Thais.
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Lots has been said about the need to make staff feel safe in organizations. It has been claimed that feeling safe is the critical success factor that make teams successful.
I want to suggest 5 ways that organizations and leaders make people unsafe. As usual, i will focus on the counter-intuitive, since much that has been written and talked about until now about making people safe is common sense.
- Promoting authenticity can and does make many people feel unsafe, especially those who come from cultures where emotions need to be repressed. Encouraging people to be authentic can be akin to asking people to sit in a room naked if the air-conditioning is not working, so that they feel comfortable.
- Delegation of authority can make people very unsafe, especially those people who expect that the privilege of being a boss comes with the price tag of protecting staff from risk and exposure.
- Asking people to express an opinion can make staff tremble if they come from cultures where opinions need to be kept to yourself in fear of being seen as rude or a tall poppy.
- Giving rosy and positive feedback can make people who are highly self critical feel that they are being lied to or deceived.
- Asking men from conservative cultures to report into a woman in general and a younger woman in particular can make men feel very unsafe.
I do know that item five is politically incorrect. But because I prefer being correct to be politically correct, so I feel safe about writing this post. To wrap things up, making staff feel safe has a lot to do with addressing the basic cultural assumptions and needs of a global and diverse nature.
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