Here are some tips to ensure you get the bad news in time to do something about it:
- Develop Independent sources of information. Cultivate informal contacts elsewhere in your organization. Take customer calls at the call center. Talk to your front-line staff.
- Push for depth. Does one element of a report seem a little off? Search for the reason why. That "off" fact or figure could alert you to a major problem.
- Create a "truth-telling" culture. Assign a "worse-case scenario" team to every analysis. Get everyone used to "facing the truth." Caution: Truth telling doesn't mean shooting down less than perfect ideas.
- Take action. If what your staff tell you just languishes, they won't come forward. Mobilize your resources and tackle the problem immediately.