Culture of Communication vs a Culture of Fear
Does your organisation have a culture of communication or a culture of fear?
This thought came to mind while I was having a discussion with a System Owner recently. He wanted to establish a forum in which like minded people could share their experience on how they had solved various technology problems they faced. Examples of these include how they achieved SOX compliance or high availability.
At first blush, this seems like a great idea. Surely there are people in the organisation who are facing problems that have already been solved. This forum will be a good chance to encourage reuse and help people develop their presentation skills.
What about the culture of fear?
There is a dark side to this well intended idea that came to mind. What if someone presents their solution and we find that their solution is contrary to one of the myriad standards or strategies in the organisation?
In a culture of fear organisation, I imagine there will be someone in the room who shouts out that the solution is not strategic or non compliant. Now that it’s in the open, the sharing team will be lined up and shot and the organiser of the forum reprimanded for instigating proliferation of non-compliance.
Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration.
Eliminate the Culture of Fear
If you want more reuse and communication in your organisation, you need to eliminate the culture of fear. People need to feel free to tell the truth about what they are doing without fear of reprisal.
Standards and strategies are valuable and important. But we should be careful about the organisational impact of fear. What happens when people stop speaking freely?