“Only 4% of an organization’s front-line problems are known by top management, 9% are known by middle management, 74% by supervisors and 100% by employees…” Sidney Yoshida calls this “The Iceberg of Ignorance” in his study that was presented at the International Quality Symposium.
Front-line employees that are working in the trenches are always going to be the ones the most knowledge on what problems exist in an organization. They are facing those problems on a daily basis and they are the ones who are best equipped to explain them to the leaders.
The problem is that if an organization has a leader who is certain they already know everything, then the last thing that leader will do ask for input from the people working in the trenches. Think about it….why would they when in their own minds they think they already know everything? They don’t feel a need for front-line data to formulate their decisions.
If I was an employee I would much rather work for a leader who recognizes and admits they don’t already have the answers because that leader is going to actively seek out their employees opinions, and that leader is going to value the employees input. That leader understands that it’s the employees facing problems on a daily basis that are best equipped to explain the root of the issues. And it’s that leader who would be unwilling to formulate an answer without first giving consideration to the wisdom that comes from the crowd of employees.
Leaders that recognize they don’t know everything and therefore value their employee input will always be the very best leaders of all.
~Amy Rees Anderson