Last Friday, we held our monthly All Hands event. Given the distributed and constant focus on mission execution nature of our team, we commit to coming together once a month to communicate priorities, provide updates on progress, introduce new members of our team and say goodbye to those who are moving on to new adventures. This most recent event was especially insightful to the masses. I say that based on the questions they asked and the facial expressions they used as they gained a true appreciation for the progress being made across the team. It was insightful for me because I realized just how much this team suffers from what Daniel Kahneman calls, WYSIATI, which is shorthand for What You See Is All There Is. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know how bad.

Many people assume that no one is working if they don’t see them working. At the same time, these very people assume no progress is being made if evidence of said progress is not visible or overtly communicated. I will freely admit that was me once. It is the fact that I was once wired this way that makes me so sensitive to the reality that these people exist. And, because this mindset is so prevalent, I make communicating progress a priority, so much so that my alter-ego is Captain Obvious. And though there are times when I hear assertions that other members of the team are not doing their part or that I am not doing mine, I don’t get defensive. Instead, I make it a point to help those who are afflicted with especially strong cases of WYSIATI to see more than they see on their own. And that is what All Hands is all about. In fact, I would offer that helping others see what they don’t see on their own is the core of leadership. And though last Friday was far from the first time it has happened for this team, it was the most visible example of how little teammates are aware of what we are doing beyond their specific area of responsibility.

We received updates from across the team. Updates on tactical actions and updates on strategic initiatives. And there were announcements of progress from various teams within our team. When it was all but over, I rolled in asĀ Captain Obvious to help frame exactly what they heard, endorse the great progress happening across the team, and encourage others to share awareness of the progress they are making. As the senior leader of the team, I have both the ability and responsibility to look across the organization and peer into each team. For that reason, I am aware of the amazing work being done within each silo of excellence. Unfortunately, I have yet to be successful in giving each silo reason to look beyond their own. So until I am successful in getting them to think horizontally, I’ll be the guy helping them to see that there are amazing things happening that are worthy of their attention in the silo right next to them.

Daniel Kahneman is right in that WYSIATI and to his point, it’s our responsibility to expand the scope of what we See if we are to have a true appreciationĀ for All There Is. That’s what the 4th Friday is all about for our team. I look forward to horizontal collaboration being a more significant part of each day.

  • What is it that you are seeing?
  • What assumptions are you making about the things that are not visible to you?
  • How are you helping your team see more than what they are choosing to see?