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High transparency, high engagement: The secret to enterprise speed

Editor's note: In this SearchCIO video, columnist Joseph Flahiff talks speed. In order for an organization to execute quickly on implementations, he argues that there first needs to be a high level of transparency at the leadership level. Transparency at the top spurs high engagement from employees throughout the organization. Watch the video and read the transcript below.

I want to talk about speed. By talking about speed, I mean the ability to execute quickly in an organization. I feel that there are two things that impact your ability to move quickly as an organization. Those two things are transparency and engagement: specifically, the transparency of leadership of your organization and the engagement of the individuals in your organization. Leadership means everyone who helps run the organization.

High transparency and high engagement

If you think of it as a matrix with transparency on one axis and engagement on the other axis, if you have high transparency and high engagement, you can move fast. The diagonal across becomes your ability to move quickly.  The lower your transparency and the lower your engagement, the slower you can move.

The lower your transparency and the lower your engagement, the slower you can move.

That is kind of counterintuitive and it makes people nervous when you start talking about being transparent as a leader. It's just scary to be transparent. Anyone can have issues doing that.

But, it's critical because if you have low transparency and low engagement -- or even [low transparency with] high engagement -- you are not going to be able to move as fast as you'd like. And, if you move faster than [what your matrix] says you should be moving, you actually create stress. The faster you go with low engagement and low transparency, the more stress you are creating.

About the author:
Joseph Flahiff is an internationally recognized leadership and organizational agility expert at Whitewater Projects Inc. He has worked with Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, startups and publicly traded firms, where he has been recognized as an experienced, pragmatic and innovative adviser. He is the author of Being Agile in a Waterfall World: A practical guide for complex organizations. Learn more at

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