In a world where transparency and disclosure are lauded as the answer to creating an informed citizenry, a past New York Times article courageously questioned the efficacy of disclosure without sufficient analysis and rules. Transparency or the act of letting everyone know everything is a close conceptual cousin.
But, like the three bears story, the porridge can be too hot or too cold but must be just right. In other words does transparency cross a line when there is no real benefit or can even be harmful to the uninformed. While the story focused on the fine print that we often sign without thought and understanding, absolving the author of responsibility with “we told you so don’t complain,” the truth is that we live in a world where transparency sets the gold standard for organizational behavior. Give thought now as to the increased need for public agencies to educate their public rather than assume through written materials that they know what you are doing. Reams of statistics and salary information may not be enough. Understanding that even public agencies are challenged from time to time as to what is to be revealed and what not is the road to wisdom and true educational efforts. How to respond to requests for information and what to proactively promote are skills that can be learned in advance of a crisis.
Community colleges face an uncertain and rapidly changing outlook. To address the transparency needs of your community and thus strengthen the bonds of trust, you must first of all know your own mission and Purpose that serves your community. You must be Prepared by understanding the forces impacting on your world and act accordingly. Planning is necessary and must retain its core yet be adaptable to community needs. Do you have a crisis management plan in place? Do you have a solid policy of how you will respond to requests for information? Those are only a handful of the questions that you must answer.
Finally, as the bow that sits proudly upon the package, understand the Perspective of Leadership. Leaders must react appropriately to the diversity of opinions. This is positive yet challenging. The Perspective of Leadership requires the ability and willingness to make the tough decisions. In a world of “fifty shades of gray,” and whipsawing winds of change and opinion, ethical decision making boils down to doing the right thing. Good decision making skills are essential.
As the saying goes, build the airplane on the ground and not when it is in flight. With no rules established for life in the jungle, develop your own rules in accordance with what is best to meet your Purpose and mission.