The dynamics in almost any organization make it very difficult for senior managers to hear the unfiltered truth from lower-level managers. In their 2004 Harvard Review article: How to Have an Honest Conversation About Your Business Strategy, co-authors Michael Beer and Russell Eisenstat present the methodology they've developed for getting the truth about an organization's issues out in front so that senior management can do something useful with it (Beer, & Eisenstat, 2004). Their method involves assembling a task force comprised of the organization’s most effective managers to collect data about strategic and organizational problems, thereby sending a clear message from the senior team that it is serious about learning the real truth (Beer, & Eisenstat, 2004). A discussion can then take place between task force members and the senior team, facilitating an open conversation alternating between advocacy and inquiry. The discussion has to focus on the most important issues. It also has to be collaborative, allowing employees to be honest without fear of retribution (Beer, & Eisenstat, 2004). This structured, direct input from key stakeholders motivates senior teams to make changes they otherwise might not make. Engaging in this process leads to dramatic changes in how businesses are organized and managed. Honest conversations at the outset result in ongoing conversations that further improve performance (Beer, & Eisenstat, 2004).
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