The Power of Radical Transparency

One the delegates on a Change Management Practitioner I led shared with us a remarkable initiative within her organisation, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, the regional police force for that part of England. 

What follows is with the kind permission of the Constabulary.

Rumour Mill is, in essence, very simple. It is an intranet discussion board, where anyone can post any question or comment about current happenings within the force. Anonymously.

Let the radical transparency of this sink in for a moment.

Anyone. 

Anonymously. 

On anything! 

Could your organisation cope with that? Would your leaders be courageous enough to provide and promote such a forum?

The history of the Constabulary up to that time had been a traumatic one. It was on their patch that Ian Huntley murdered the two schoolgirls at Soham. The repercussions were profound, not just in Cambridgeshire, but nationally. The nation asked whether we were doing enough to protect our children from predators such as Huntley.

In the wake of all this, Cambridgeshire Constabulary went through a furnace experience of public enquiry, scrutiny and self-examination. Under exceptional leadership from successive chief constables, it emerged with a culture of exemplary professionalism. 

A lesser, weaker leadership would have withdrawn into itself, become more secretive and guarded. 

But it was in this context that the change team conceived the Rumour Mill.

Culture, once again, is the key.

Culture is the key in effective change leadership.

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So, if someone, anyone, posts a comment such as, "This initiative will mean the loss of twenty jobs at HQ", within a couple of hours at most a response is posted by the change team, correcting any wrong assumptions or clarifying any confusion where appropriate.

People following the thread can see the openness of leadership here, and the abiding trust grows that leaders are listening to everyone.

This Rumour Mill is, for me, a brilliant illustration of how a courageous and powerful leadership is prepared to be radically transparent. And the payoff in restored trust can be huge. 

Rumour Mill is a brilliant illustration of courageous and powerful leadership prepared to be radically transparent.

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Well done, Cambridgeshire!

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