“People can see right through you, you know”

Transparency

Our Mayor campaigned heavily on the virtues of “Transparency” and “Accountability”. 
Drawn to the magnetism of these buzzwords she set forth a goal in the town’s revised strategic plan outlining what she wanted to accomplish in regards to transparency. 

An entire page was dedicated to “Goal D – Ensure transparent, accountable and open governance in concert with informed and involved citizens”.

I encourage you to read pages 15&16 of the strategic plan available here : http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/DocRepository/1/FinalStrategicPlan2006.pdf   so you can form your own opinion on what has been accomplished on this list, and of course I will tell you mine.

Our Mayor has been ineffective in accomplishing any effort in making the town’s operations any more transparent, as for herself, that’s a completely different matter.

I’m not trying to say that our Mayor is not transparent, quite the opposite.
If there is one person on council that you can see right through it is her worship.

In reading a great post titled “The transparent organization”
http://socialsquare.dk/2008/11/12/the-transparent-organisation/  one could see how transparency could be utilized, given the right approach.

Swedish organizational anthropologist Christina Garsten argues that “companies use claiming transparency often simply as a way to avoid criticism preemptively”.  And we all know how much our Mayor loves criticism let alone dissent.

The article goes on to say that transparency can help your organization in two ways:

1.)  It can be an invitation to trust – both internally and externally. It can help to build a conscientious culture within your organization, but also give external stakeholders more reasons to trust you, since they can see and hear how you usually work.

2.)  It can direct attention. By making visible a lot of information about your organization, external stakeholders will come to depend on you to act as a guide to that information, and allow you to display (or hide) stories about your organization.

I would say that trust is at an all time low, and that transparency hasn’t been effective in regards to trust. 
However it may be working in regards to spewing out copious amounts of information.  We all know how much the mayor likes to correct people on the mistakes of interpreting her information, it allows a natural segue for disinformation and spin.

Perhaps the Mayor when setting these goals should have read “The Transparent Leader”
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060565470/qid=1098045426/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/104-2470912-6598365?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

On page 47, the author writes:

“In an old corporate landscape when what you didn’t hear or see didn’t exist, and what you didn’t say couldn’t get you in trouble. But times have changed!

Today it’s all about seeing, saying, and hearing.  Turn on any news channel and you’ll see plenty of examples of executives who didn’t see the things they should have, didn’t say the things they should have, and didn’t hear the things they should have.

They learned the importance of seeing it all – even when it’s not good news – but they learned it too late.  By the time they figured out how essential it is to be transparent and cultivate transparent employees, their own employees were being investigated, their documents subpoenaed, and in some cases their companies shut down.”

The “The transparent organisation” had a valuable suggestion regarding how to make transparency work to avoid this very end:

Perhaps, for a group, transparency is best provided by others than yourself. Rather than expecting organisations to be transparent from inside-out, it would be better to make them transparent outside-in: By letting organisations build trust based on what others, including people that you already know and trust, say about them.

The tools of transparency (blogs, wikis, etc.) are readily available to all of us, it is of peculiar interest that the majority of councilors and the mayor choose to ignore them, yet name calling, intimidation, bullying, are all out on display.

At council this week our Mayor allegedly uttered “People can see right through you, you know” to councilor Collins Mrakas upon return from recess.

How I ask is that any different then a schoolyard bully shouting “your mother wears army boots” to a fellow schoolmate upon returning from recess?

This from someone who prides herself on integrity and adhering to a code of conduct?

Never before have I seen such a condescending attitude towards a visible minority than when I watch our mayor address councilors Collins Mrakas, Evelyn Buck and Bob McRoberts. 
 
Is this what leadership has been reduced to in our town?  What a role model indeed.

I guess the same can be said of transparency as of nudist parks: Initially you expect to catch a glimpse of the forbiden fruit and you end up seeing things that can’t be unseen.

In short, too much transparency is not a good thing.

Especially where Mayor Morris is concerned.

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