We had a mini discussion at work today about openness and honesty – do both words mean the same?
I think that they are not. Openness and Honesty bear different meanings and implications. Openness implies the accessibility to information, while Honesty refers to reflecting what’s known to be true.
An example: I can be honest and tell you how terrible the day has been, but if I choose not to tell you because of certain reasons (not worth your time and attention, or by telling you it will only make me feel more terrible), it doesn’t mean that I’m not honest.
Some of my colleagues think they mean the same thing. "That’s why you say an open and honest conversation." Why do you need to use both words in a sentence if they refer to the same thing? Have you heard someone saying "this book is nice, great, and fantastic"? "It both means transparency." Hmm, you are using a new word to neutralise the meanings of these two words. "Those are only semantics right?" Nahhh darling, this is about your personal take, what Openness and Honesty mean to you and me. It’s about having a shared and common understanding of our vocabulary so our expectations are aligned.
When you say you expect honesty from you, you would think that it includes openness, and vice versa. So I have to tell you every single time how terrible my day goes.
When I say I expect honesty from you, I expect you to call A an A. When I say I expect openness from you, I expect you to tell me how many As you’ve got.
See the difference?
– I don’t appreciate being talked to that way.
– You are implying that I changed my mind arbitrarily.
– Well, that’s exactly what I think. Remember a few weeks ago, you didn’t like that idea and wanted to not proceed with it at all? Then someone talked to you and you weren’t quite happy because she challenged your objective. You went with the idea in the end after that talk. Now you say this is a good idea. That gives me the impression that you changed your mind arbitrarily. I stuck with this idea from the beginning. I said I’m aware of the pros and cons, but I’m willing to take the risks because I can see the risks are something I can manage. I’m not surprised with how this idea turns out to be now. It is what I foresaw it would be. And I’ve worked really hard to make sure we are on track. I’m glad that you have acknowledged how everything works out now; however, from where I stand, I see there’s an 180-degree of opinion change on your end.
– But the decision to go with the idea was still mine, right? It was me who made the final call that we should go with it. It was the right one.
– That was ultimately your call, as in any other decision in this place, isn’t it? You have to sign off on everything.
– I’m just very annoyed with the way you said it.
– I can’t help you control your own emotions. Do you need a moment?
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Someone asked me about that after he learnt that I’m currently working full time and doing a master’s degree part time, “Why are you also doing this (Smart Seeds)?”. I felt being put on the spot at that moment so I gave a really lame answer.
Now at this very wee hour, with the luxury of a quiet late night, I contemplate this question “Why am I doing Smart Seeds?”. Here’s what I reckon:
- I have never taken part in an innovation programme of this scale so I want to experience it.
- This is going to give me the experience of
- stepping outside of my comfort zone,
- working on something that’s bigger than me and my capability,
- getting to work with a bunch of people in other industries that I would not otherwise have a chance to work with,
- getting to learn from other industries through working on a project which of course, I would not otherwise have any chance to.
- Again, an opportunity like this is not popping up often enough.
- I put my time and thoughts into the application, of course, I will follow it through upon being selected.
- This gives me a chance to be “out of the office” and have a wider perspective.
If you find yourself having way too many wandering thoughts and distraction, here’s a tip.
Draw a square (or circle if you like) on a piece of paper and figuratively speaking, put your thoughts there. Like Dumbledore and his Pensieve, only less fancy.
Narrow frames, which pretend that knowledge is complete.
A broad decision frame takes into account
(1) multiple objectives – not just the most salient one at the moment;
(2) multiple alternatives – not just the first option that lands on the table; and
(3) multiple outcomes that could arise in the near and long term – not the expected state of the world.
Common training, common experiences, and frequent interaction all have the effect of leading to shared views on problems.
Although shared views can be beneficial because they facilitate communication and coordination of efforts, they can be harmful when they perpetuate narrow perspectives on a decision problem.
Ironically, a like-minded group is a poor source for new objectives, alternatives, and future scenarios, but more confident in its ability – the consistency of perspective across colleagues leads each individual to feel validated and confident in his or her view of decisions.
A group that starts a brainstorming session without first asking each member to generate his or her own views on a problem risks having a specific view emerge early in the discussion that then frames everyone’s view of the problem.
Techniques for Broadening the Decision Frame
- Considering multiple attributes and alternatives
- Assessing and weighing future states of the world
- Using "all four cells" to make accurate predictions
- Barriers to adopting quantitative techniques
- Informal techniques for broadening the search for information
- Informal techniques for using a broader set of attributes and alternatives in decisions
- Informal techniques for broadening diversity of perspective
- Unfortunately, classic brainstorming can undermine the independence of thought to the extent that early suggestions can entrain everyone’s subsequent ideas. Thus, the best group techniques preserve initial differences in perspective by having individuals think about a problem alone (this stage is often called a "nominal" group), but then pool the information so that others can react to it.
Limitations to Broadening the Frame
Practical limits on broad frames:
- Elaborate techniques, such as multiattribute choice processes, are time-consuming and risk "analysis paralysis" (How do you know when you have reviewed enough attributes and alternatives?)
- Recommendations that involve soliciting objectives and alternatives from many different parties risk introducing conflict, politics, and negotiation.
- More comprehensive processes may increase confidence and satisfaction with a decision, but, if the processes make obvious stark tradeoffs, they may dampen satisfaction with a final decision.
–> Blinking rather than thinking.
More on Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behavior: Indispensable Knowledge for Evidence-Based Management, 2nd Edition
Someone asked me what I like (to do in my free time) today. I said I like to stay at home. As long as, in no order of important or preference, there’s a bed, a book, a laptop with Internet, food, my husband, home is truly a paradise. I can spend 48 hours on weekend at home happily, rested and contented.
Now thinking about it, why am I having so many shoes if I’m not going out?
You Have PRODUCER POTENTIAL
You show a tendency to use the internal skills — what we call habits of mind — that producers apply to everything they do. They include:
- Empathetic imagination: seeing blockbuster potential in the needs and wants of others
- Patient urgency: operating simultaneously at multiple speeds and time frames
- Inventive execution: bringing together creative thinking and operational prowess
- Taking a relative view of risk: accepting immediate losses if they lead to a better future
- Leadership partnership: looking for others with complementary skills that enhance their own
However, you are also comfortable in the role of a performer, working in an environment where the parameters and rules of engagement are established.
Corporate environments need both producers, who have the ability to imagine entirely new products and business models, and performers, who can navigate known systems to optimize opportunities. Performer opportunities abound in business (and greatly outnumber openings for producers), so many people with producer potential get drawn into a performer mind-set. It is distracting to try to fulfill both roles; it is better to pick one approach, and look for a partner who can complement you.
If you want to see how far you can go as an innovator, try to get involved with a new opportunity at your company and approach it as a producer would. Question standard approaches to a problem. Imagine what different designs to the pricing or business model of a product might yield. Look for a performer who can help it get the recognition and support it needs to come to life.
Are you a Producer or a Performer?