Being seen to do the right thing

Some time ago I wrote that “Teams first have to not only deliver, but also be seen to deliver.” I was thinking about that general idea again recently, but in a different context.

My problem was that I needed to demonstrate to a third party that my team was working in a particular way. And in order to demonstrate that I was going to need to ask the team to do some extra work to gather the evidence. That could be tricky, because I would be asking for more, when as far as they were concerned they were already doing everything right. Of course, what was missing was being able to show that to someone who wasn’t there every day. We needed not just to be working in the right way, but be seen to be working in the right way.

I’ve come across a similar situation before. In UK public sector digital projects you need to show you’re delivering in the right way by means of an interview with evidence.

And this general pattern is not just true in project delivery. Companies may want to show they are the definitive product in their market, or they may want to show they have excellent customer service. In all cases they not only have to achieve the thing, but they also have to show they’ve achieved it. And that requires extra steps—to collect the evidence, whether that is data, customer testimonials, minutes of meetings, or whatever.

To some, those extra steps may seem like a waste. And it’s true that the most efficient way to do this would be to make the evidence-gathering a routine part of the daily work, so that it becomes almost incidental. But in most cases the benefit is disproportionate to the extra effort, because that is the part that allows others to appreciate the rest of the hard work. That is why it’s worth doing.

Photo by Penn State