Skip to main content

Thinking and Speaking Radically

To Action: Radically Honest

Have you ever had that feeling where a song just describes what you’re seeing in reality at that moment? Well I had one of those earlier in the week. Listening to a tech/metal band that I’ve just grown a new appreciation for – Bring Me The Horizon. I’ll share the lyrics that really nailed the point here, but only if you promise to look past the mild profanity (they are a metal band after all).

“Before the truth will set you free, it’ll piss you off” – Mantra, Bring Me The Horizon

That one line captures the trend that I’m seeing more and more across the organisations I interact with. It’s a trend that American billionaire investor Ray Dalio predicted in both his book and his Ted Talk in 2017.

And that’s a trend towards radical honesty.

I’m seeing leaders in even the most conservative organisations start to embrace it. And it’s serving them well – but usually only after substantial teething periods.

Now, I’m not sure if it’s the added safety of virtual interactions that’s catalysing this, or it’s a form of catharsis from the exhaustion of a multi-year pandemic. Either way, Radical Honesty is spreading.

And this is a very good thing.
…It’s just not an easy one.

The results tend to speak for themselves though.

Earlier in the week I was speaking with a senior exec in one of the larger Federal Government departments. He’s been slowly creating a culture of radical honesty and communication among his peers for the last 18 months. The journey was a long and slow one, but reading between the lines – the new culture there was one of respect, empathy and open-mindedness. All crucial elements for effectively driving change across a typically political and highly complex organisation.

So this week, if you dare:

Find one small way, one small section, even just one person – and commit to trialling out radical honesty with them. It must be two way, and it must be consensual. You cannot just surprise people with this.

Experiment.. and see how it feels. Watch for the emotional defences that will arise on both sides. Be courteous, respectful, vulnerable and honest.

See if it’s all it’s cracked up to be…

To Ponder: The Third Type of Data

Killing a change mid-way is one of the hardest decisions that any change leader can make. So much so, that across my experience the vast majority of change leaders just don’t make the decision – preferring to deliver an expensive but useless something over a cheaper, nothing. The sunk cost fallacy is alive and well.

But killing a change is just one example of the many difficult decisions that change leaders are required to make.

So how can we make decisions easier?

We make decision making as easy as possible by focusing on two key elements:

Data and Emotion. (I explore the dynamics of this more in my latest book).

More specifically decision making is easiest when emotion is low and data is high.

But the question I have for you this week is a simple one.

When I say data, you’re probably thinking of data as being either qualitative (survey results) or quantitative (revenue improvements).

But perhaps there’s a third form of data…


If ideas were valued as a data-source as highly as the annual culture surveys you’re running, or your quarterly financial reporting… what would that look like? And how could you harness them?

To Reflect: Your Weekly Anti-Platitude

Data can tell us where we’ve been,

Sometimes even where we’re forecast to go.

However it’s your people that can tell you how things needs to change.

Brendon Baker

Brendon is a leading expert in strategic framing and inside-out change. He has led and guided over $11 Billion in transformative projects and programs, from transformations to teddy bears. He is the author of the best-seller Valuable Change, and niche top seller Creating High Value PMOs. Brendon now spends his time helping leaders cut through the noise to focus on what matters; working with them to create new realities.

Leave a Reply