Former Commandant of the Marine Corps, Louis Wilson, Jr., remarked that by the time things got to his desk that everything was wonderful. He became tired of hearing sanitized versions of how things were going in the field and annoyed that people would tell him the positive side of the news to help situations look better.

To learn what was really going on, Wilson conducted a “listening tour” where he went into the field and to other facilities and asked people to tell him what the problems were. At first, he did not get much response, but eventually, people believed that he was serious and shared their impressions with the General.

As Commandant, Wilson was a full-time member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking Marine, yet he did not rest on those laurels or take the easy route to accept things at face value.

Maybe it is time for you to start the new year with a change of location. Get out there among your staff, peers and customers to learn what is really going on. You may need to spend some time convincing others of your sincerity and desire to hear the unvarnished truth, but it will be a wise investment of time. You can’t solve problems if you don’t know they exist.

Thanks, Curt!

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