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No one wants to be treated like a mushroom – kept in the dark, and fed a bunch of shit.

This is just one analogy for obfuscation but feel free to use your favorite: “the cover up is always worse than the crime (or crisis)”; “you can’t manage a secret”; “the truth is the easiest thing to remember (and explain.)”

Hiding bad news never works. It can delay solutions and progress. It can cause death and destruction.

China’s stonewalling on Covid-19 will likely cost thousands their lives. Boeing downplaying design flaws is criminal negligence and manslaughter on a massive scale. Covering up all forms of mental, physical and sexual abuse devalues the souls of those who suffer.

Most of us are not managing pandemic responses, complex manufacturing problems or criminal justice failures. But we are dealing with projects in peril, relationships that falter, and decisions that go bad.

Truth and transparency are the fundamental ingredients for any remedy. The faster we get honest, the faster we can fix things. Here are the key elements for effective crisis management:

  1. Reality-based candor. Open, honest and direct conversations about problems that people see must be encouraged. You can’t fix what you don’t know about.
  2. Reputational courage. Reputation is a long-term game. Taking a hit to your reputation in the short term allows for trust and confidence to build and enable problem solving in the long-term.
  3. Psychological safety. People will not ask tough questions or raise their hands if they sense risk and personal repercussions.

Good news and bad news must flow at the same rate. Problems need to be placed in bright sunlight. It has to start at the top.

It takes fearlessness. But it’s the only way to get on the path to solving, achieving – and healing.

Have a great week.

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