Thousands of years ago, a gatekeeper was a roadway toll-taker or the person whose job was to prevent people from entering a restricted area without permission.
In the modern workplace, gatekeepers control access to information.
Information Gatekeepers are common in organizations. There are usually several layers of them, and their power is often greater than their formally recognized authority.
Gatekeepers control agendas and influence outcomes.
Information Gatekeepers are not always good stewards who carefully and responsibly manage that which has been entrusted to their care. When information comes across their desks, most gatekeepers change it before passing it along, particularly in ways that make themselves look good. Gatekeepers alter information by making choices that are a complex web of motive, bias, prejudice, favoritism, and more. Gatekeepers abuse their power when they act in their own self-interests, unilaterally deciding what to discard and what to change before passing it up the ladder. Self-interest and nest-feathering determine who gets to see what.
What happens to a company’s research more often than most can imagine is a deliberate stacking of the deck by one or more gatekeepers.
This English-language idiom is defined as influencing the results in an unfair manner by surreptitiously pre-arranging things to achieve a desired outcome. When it comes to reporting research findings in hierarchical organizations, most of the original information is withheld and what remains is elaborately embroidered. The more gatekeepers there are between the research and the The Boss, the more manipulations, distortions, and fabrications get delivered to The Boss’ desk.
Organizations need to remove these barriers if they want information sharing to become an integral part of the organization’s culture, and if they want The Boss to have the whole picture, not just one part of it.