Transparency

22 January 2007

The word of the moment in the office appears to be "transparency." In this case, the term is meant to imply that there are no cigar-filled back rooms making decisions or that information will be otherwise hidden from the masses. The idea is that we all have equal access and input; but, let's face it: there is no such animal. Someone always has an agenda that they're not quite willing to make public. The whole notion of a power structure is such that one person has much more information than the others. A school district is not "flat."

I've worked in the south. I've been the underling in a good ol' boy network. There are some undesirable features of that system, but on the upside, you always know where you stand and there is a party who is responsible for making decisions. The buck does have a place to stop. What I don't like is being in a situation which claims it's more egalitarian...but isn't. Don't say that you're transparent and then surprise everyone in a meeting with a pre-determined decision.

The original Boss Lady had a great tactic. She, too, was not always transparent, but she had such a knack for asking questions and prompting thinking that led people to an idea (which happened to be the same as theirs). It made people feel like they had ownership in things, even though they were doing what the Boss Lady had originally intended. She coached people through issues.

The transparency trend is already wearing a bit thin. It looks like "capacity" is the up and coming buzz word for the coming year. Maybe I'll try it on for size. :)

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