“Too Many Secrets” – Thoughts on Transparency, Openness, and Full, Effective Communication


Too Many SecretsToo Many Secrets…

That is the catchy phrase that is at the heart of the plot of the 1992 movie Sneakers. Robert Redford and his band of clandestine secret finders are put into a pretty severe dilemma as they discover one really whopping secret.

But, the catch phrase is pretty universally true. There are too many secrets! Companies and organizations try to keep their questionable activities secret. And, they definitely try to keep their mistakes, especially their really big mistakes, secret.

And so we call for more transparency. Constantly. The latest call is to Presbyterian Hospital, and the CDC, regarding what was done, when it was done, and by whom, in the midst of the treatment of Ebola victims.

But, in a thousand little ways, there are secrets kept that should not be kept. For example, in companies, when a message that should be sent to all within the company, and people do not receive, or do not “attend to” (pay attention to) the message. Thus, though intended to not be kept secret, the message is still, in fact, secret.

And, messages kept secret, whether on purpose or by accident, can hurt a company, an organization, even an entire society, in some significant ways.

Scaling Up ExcellenceIn the book Scaling Up Excellence, Robert Sutton writes:

Scaling Up Excellence tackles a challenge that confronts every leader and organization – spreading constructive beliefs and behavior from the few to the many.

In other words, communicating — getting the word out! When there is an important message, don’t keep it a secret. Spread it far and wide. And, make sure it is received and understood far and wide. When messages are fully, successfully communicated – no longer secret! — an entire organization moves forward.

I just finished reading a book about DREAMers and the Dream Act (The DREAMersread this blog post). In the midst of the book was the challenge of spreading messages throughout a movement. Getting everybody to understand, and then to “stay on message,” was/is a big challenge.

Too Many Secrets… what secrets do you need to make sure are secret on longer?

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