50 Lessons After 50:



I believe that secrets and the appearance of secrets are cancers in organizations that lend themselves to distrust of leadership and various conspiracy theories. Transparency is even more important for an organization charged with innovation because scientists are trained to be skeptical and question existing notions and judgements irrespective of the seniority of the person making a judgement. Furthermore, the heart of the scientific method demands peer review and detailed interrogation of data and decisions made based on data.

At Ionis, we made about 90% of all decisions in meetings that were open to anyone in the company that were always well attended. Though there was anxiety at first about making decisions in public that included concerns that ranged from whether junior people might overinterpret negatives, whether senior leaders who “lost an argument” in public might lose authority over their subordinates to possible leaks of data to competitors or to the public, but I felt the benefits would outweigh the risks and that turned out to be true. The organization became comfortable with the process, enjoyed seeing how decisions were made, benefitted from seeing the fallibility of leaders and how hard we worked together to “get it right” and none of the fears ever materialized.

by Dr. Stan Crooke

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