Monday, November 12, 2012


By Steven Worth

Transparency is the equivalent of Salk’s polio vaccine of the 1950s.  It is the miracle cure for many serious and aggravating problems faced by managers of nonprofit and public service organizations. 
Having problems getting your volunteer leaders to meet their deadlines and in general to focus on what they promised to deliver?  Develop publicly accessible dashboards showing progress against goals as identified by those who originally took responsibility for accomplishing them.  Public recognition is the greatest reward you can give your volunteer leaders—it is also the most effective goad to getting them to do what they promised within the timeframe that they originally set!
Are the ethics of a situation problematic and hard to understand for the leaders it concerns?  Make the issue public and see if the ambiguities of the situation don’t start to sort themselves out!
I always liked the British Parliament’s way to deal with any perceived conflicts of interest for their elected representatives.  For them there is no such thing as a conflict of interest as long as the elected representatives publicly list the origin and reason for of all the money they have received in any given year. 
During the infamous witch hunts of the 1950s McCarthy hearings, it was the beginning of the end of Senator McCarthy’s demagoguery when Maine’s Senator Margaret Chase Smith called him out on the Senate floor with the resounding words, “Finally sir, have you no sense of decency?”
Transparency works in organizations that are dedicated, or which should be dedicated, to the public good because it appeals to all people’s fundamental sense of what is right.

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