No one wants advice – only corroboration.
Of course, we all say that we want advice; and we all want feedback. But are we really prepared to listen?
Over the years I’ve noticed the approach that Steinbeck talks about being played out in an organisational context.
We want customer feedback… until they say that they don’t like our services. Then, we begin to rationalise the response:
‘They didn’t really understand the question.’
‘Only the discontented customers respond to these surveys.’
Or, we bask in the glory of positive reports from external regulators, auditors and inspectors… until we get a poor report. Then, we begin to rationalise the report:
‘They’re too far removed from the front line to know what’s really going on.’
‘They misquoted/misunderstood the information that we gave them.’
I don’t recall an occasion when our first reaction was, “If that’s their perception, then it’s our reality. So what can we learn?”
I wonder how much we might improve if we did react like that?