September 17, 2012

The “no-spin zone.”
At first, it sounded like a football term to me. Then, a traffic warning.

However, it is how Shawn H. Wilson, President of Usher’s New Look Foundation, describes his office.  He says it is a place where he doesn’t want employees making excuses or spinning the truth.

Adam Bryant, Corner Office columnist for the New York Times (and author of a book by the same name) interviewed Wilson about his leadership experiences and lessons learned.

At New Look, Wilson is nicknamed the “Godfather” and speaks about his godfather-isms, including his balance of fierce ambition and due patience. He believes it takes a lot of time to build a shared vision in an organization.

When Bryant prods Wilson for another godfather-ism, he responds:

“I always tell my staff when you come in my office, you’re in a no-spin zone. Just be respectful.  I’ve seen the habit in other organizations and I saw it creeping into our organization, where people tend to make excuses or spin the truth.”

“So at one point I felt it was important as a leader to say, listen, I don’t know why this happened, but we need to get to the core root of why it happened, and it has to be factual.  It can’t be all these other things. When we started that, I definitely saw a difference in the culture.” 

Wilson reminds us that candor is uncommon enough that we might need to declare our desire for it.  Do we follow Wilson’s lead when it comes to requesting the straight story when we want it?

I wonder how often we assume we are getting the forthright accounting of events and we are not. How many bad decisions are made and how much time is wasted? Printing my office door’s new No-Spin Zone sign right now….