I read a book recently by Adam Grant titled Originals. It crystallized a thought I have always had in the most succinct way.
Adam Grant suggests four choices individuals face in every moment of truth – Neglect, Persist, Exit or Voice.
“Fundamentally, these choices are based on feelings of control and commitment. Do you believe you can effect change and you care enough to try? If you believe you’re stuck with the status quo, you’ll choose neglect when you’re not committed, and persistence when you are. If you feel you can make a difference, but you aren’t committed to the person, country, or organization, you’ll leave (exit). Only when you believe your actions matter and care deeply will you consider speaking up (voice).” – Adam Grant
Organizations inclined to high performance, incentivize speaking up. They call it candor, challenging the status quo, second order thinking, brutal honesty and many other catch phrases. But it is quite simply speaking up. When the most committed people in an organization turn silent, what leadership celebrates as alignment, is actually the calm before the storm.
“The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet” – Tim McClure.
The reality is that high performance is fueled by demystifying myths. Anything and anyone that cannot be challenged with a “Why?” is a clog in the wheel. It stands true for science and stays same for organizations.
I am surprised when organizations choose to spend monstrous amounts on external consultants. These B-school grads basically come in and listen to the same people the leaders have had around them all along, then play back solutions that have always existed within the organization. A more cost effective approach would be leaders learning to shut up, listen and inspire people to speak up.
“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” – Andy Stanley
Sadly, even when people quit, exit interviews do not hold any substance in the feedback loop of continual improvement. People try to be nice, because they anticipate that being nice will help future engagement. If you cannot speak up, even when you quit, that organization might not even exist in the future, to enable any connection. Except, that is your real intent.
This is why in the study of why organizations fail, the best autopsies always end with assumptions, because the fatal effect of long term silence on organizations, leaves no trace.
“In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.” – Rudiger Dornbusch [Same aphorism applies in organizations and life]
I always choose to speak up, even when I quit. And for those that think they know what I am talking about, I have quit twice.
“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.” – Paulo Coelho
Never say never.
😂. I will get a lot of calls for this piece.
– Osasu Oviawe