Create a regularly scheduled Q and A session where the CEO and his or her peers are compelled to take questions from the broader organization, in the style of the British Prime Minister’s address to Parliament each Wednesday.
In far too many organizations, the process used to set strategy and arrive at key decisions resembles the election of a Pope. That is, the average employee has little to no understanding of, and input to, the process, and is instead reduced to waiting for the output of the process (“ the white smoke up the chimney”) This tends to disempower the employee base, but perhaps most importantly, robs decision-makers of the useful “push back” that the broader organization (particularly those working at the “front line”) can provide.
Schedule a regular (say monthly) question and answer session, where any individual in the organization can pose a question to the organization’s leadership and the leadership is compelled to answer. To avoid “packaged” or “spun” answers, the questioning would occur real-time, and the selection of the questions (actually the questioner) would occur via random drawing.
Properly implemented, such a system would:
Provide decision-makers with useful feedback to their decisions, particularly as relates to issues that affect customers and suppliers.
Provide decision-makers with a relatively safe playing field to hone their rationale, in advance of presentations to external groups
Drive greater engagement of the organization, by demonstrating that there are no “sacred cows” and that input of all is indeed welcome
Put a more human face on management, by allowing for direct interaction between the C-Suite and the front-line employees.
Launch the concept gradually, in a virtual environment, and with middle management taking the initial set of question.
Distribute a transcript of these early sessions to senior executives and conduct a brief training in appropriate response styles.
Limit the length of the initial Q&A sessions until the process is better understood, and publish a set of guidelines for questioners.