The Ground Truth: Go to the Frontline!
Ground Truth is defined as “information that is known to be real or true, provided by direct observation and measurement (i.e. empirical evidence) as opposed to information provided by inference.” Source: Wikipedia
Why is this important?Information gets Filtered as it moves up the chain. And this is the reason that so many generals & CEOs of corporations have no idea what’s going on at frontlines. And that is why they are always unable to catch emerging problems. Or usually are caught by surprise when these problems become too big to ignore.
Sure you can have great reporting, amazing employees and a culture of honesty and transparency. But the bigger you get, the harder it is to maintain these things. Complexity begins to increase. More complexity means more points of failure. That is why it’s critical that senior executives leave their plush offices and spend time all across the hierarchy and talk to customers. Otherwise they lose touch with what’s really happening in the market and their organization.
I had heard a story that the most connected CEOs were ones that smoked. Why? It was because they had exposure to frontline employees when they went outside to have cigarettes and chat.
I think this led to the term coined by Management Guru Tom Peters called MBWA=Management By Walking Around.
So it doesn’t matter how high you rise in the organization, you need to spend time on the frontlines and get the ground reality of the market. If you do this, you may have a better chance of catching and surviving the inevitable curve balls of business issues that come your way.