Fake news is fast becoming one of the most popular new phrases of 2017. We see it in Western politics, we listen to our own locally biased news channels debate what is fake and what is not, and we hear our late night comedians pan fake news with politically motivated jokes every chance they get.
The questions that are important for us to ask include, “Is fake news just as prevalent in the workforce as it is in politics, and if yes, what can be done to combat it?”
What is Fake News?
Fake news is the deliberate publication of hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news. Unlike satire news, fake news seeks to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial, political, or other gain.
Fake News has become very prevalent in all of the politics. The following is a list of the Top 5 Fake Political News Stories on Facebook (Source: BuzzFeed News, 12/30/16). But then, is this fake news ….
- “Obama Signs Executive Order Banning The Pledge of Allegiance in Schools Nationwide” (2.2 million Facebook shares, comments, and reactions)
- “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement” (0.96 million)
- “Trump Offering Free One-Way Tickets to Africa & Mexico for Those Who Wanna Leave America” (0.80 Million)
- “FBI Agent Suspected in in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide” (0.57 Million)
- “RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE To Reunite And Release Anti Donald Trump Album” (0.56 Million)
Pretty shocking stuff, heh? And that’s why these news articles are shared so much – merely the shock value of hearing a high profile person make a controversial move or comment.
Does Fake News Exist Within Businesses?
Sure it does. It just looks different than electronic headlines. Why does it exist? For the same reasons it does on the political scene – personal financial and political gain.
What might fake news headlines read like in your business? Perhaps ….
- “First Time Quality Jumps by 40% as all Employees Incentivized to Participate in Suggestion System”
- “Lead Times Cut in Half through ‘Work Harder Program’ combined with ISO 9001 Registration”
- “200 Black Belts Trained Leads to Doubling of Market Share”
- “Profits Increase by Slashing Inventory to 2010 levels.”
- “Employee Morale at Highest Level Ever Since Merger”
Could these headlines match the definition of fake news as being hoaxes, propaganda, or disinformation with the purpose of misleading for financial or political gain within an organization. Absolutely! Distributing propaganda and disinformation does happen within organizations, in the form of PowerPoints, annual reports, blogs, monthly internal reports, and company newsletters, sometimes for the purpose of financial or political gain as supporters and drivers of certain programs find ways to play with, fudge, and/or tweak the numbers to make it look like their programs were successful, thus justifying that big end of year bonus and/or promotion.
Fake news does occur within organizations indeed!
How Does an Organization Combat Fake News?
In a word ….transparency! We hear politicians talk about the need for transparency, but we rarely see it. We also hear business leaders talk about transparency as well, but how does a company become more transparent at all levels within the company. That’s where KAIZEN™, done on a daily basis comes in. the following are a few examples of how to combat Fake News through the development of a KAIZEN™ culture.
A gemba walk is a viewing or an observation of the process, at the place where the value is added, at a pre-determined schedule based on one’s Leader’s Standard Work, with the purpose of identifying waste, seeing the real process, empathizing with the worker, and challenging all on their knowledge of the process and results while coaching them on how to improve the process. gemba literally means “place”. Management at all levels must show a commitment to going to the gemba in accordance with a pre-determined schedule.
Why is this done? For transparency. To see the real story, to see the real data … on a frequent basis …and to not rely on the Fake News that may be reported perhaps at a monthly management meeting, in a conference room, where the real truth can be hidden to ensure that one or some achieve some financial or political gain.
The purpose of Visual Management (VM) is to provide transparency of individual processes to the workers and all levels of management so that the state of the process, and all gaps between actual and expected performance, are clearly seen at any point in time, so that immediate action can be taken before it is too late. It is the ultimate Fake News deterrent because the data and information displayed on Visual Management Boards, is extremely granular (i.e. production on an hour by hour basis) and as such, easily verifiable against actual conditions, especially since the VM Boards are located at the Gemba. And, any one, at any time, can stop by to see how the process is running at that moment, thus making Fake News difficult if not impossible, to report.
Huddle Meetings (or Daily Accountability Meetings)
The purpose of the Huddle Meeting is to discuss the most recent results from a process focused value stream or work cell, as displayed on a Visual Management Board. The primary focus of attention should be placed on occurrences of negative gaps between expectations and actual performance. The discussions and resulting actions that follow are based on brief discussions by the team members who have control over the results that they measure and the actions that will be deployed. The beauty of Huddle Meetings in combating Fake News is that the data is real time or very close to real time, the meetings are at the gemba so verification is easy to do, and the results are critiqued and evaluated by the natural team members and a cross-functional group of stakeholders rather than just one person publishing Fake data.
Combatting Fake News should simply not be a problem when a company truly lives by the spirit of the principles, purpose, and tools of a KAIZEN™ culture.