- Overview: Transparency … Transcendency … Trajectory
- Introduction to Transparency
- Humility and Balance
- Responsibility and Accountability
- Healthy Integrity
- Adaptability and Correctability
- Verbal and Visual Review: What To Do and What Not To Do
- Highly Recommended Resources
Tutorial #04 – Transparency
Overview: Transparency … Transcendency … Trajectory
The next three tutorials together form one stream of interrelated characteristics in creating a Quadruple Bottom Line: Transparency … Transcendency … and Watching for the “Video” of Trajectory.
Transparency is the hallmark of the conventional Triple Bottom Line elements of Society, Ecology, and Economy; and transcendency is the hallmark of the fourth bottom line element of Spirituality. These character qualities are essential to a holistic approach for social transformation activity that brings the most integrated impact.
The tutorial on trajectory reminds us to show grace and patience to all, because developing a Quadruple Bottom Line takes much time and intentional effort, and is honed through identifying and correcting our mistakes more than through immediate successes. Also, since each group and organization begins their journey toward “Kingdom Culture” from a unique starting point, we need to understand that this is a source of probable conflict between groups, but the differences are also a source of potential compositing for a stronger organization or movement.
Introduction to Transparency
Regardless of the exact integration configuration, if it is the real thing, our Triple or Quadruple Bottom Line will demonstrate “transparency.”
Well, transparency sounds good, but what exactly does it mean?
The following may not be everything that those who’ve been using a Triple Bottom Line consider as features of “transparency,” but these elements are character qualities and practical actions that I believe demonstrate commitment to transparency and skill in living it out.
Transparency means that things are clear, revealed, and unpretentious – not hidden, veiled, or disguised. The truth is told forthrightly, even if it is slanted according to a bias, but it is not told deceptively as if there is no bias.
What are some opposites of openness? Closed, secretive, stifling.
By transparency, I do not mean that there is no such thing as confidentiality, because some facts should not be made public unless circumstances absolutely require it. Thus, confidentiality is keeping appropriate “secrets,” which is not the same as being inappropriately secretive about things that should be made public.
What are some opposites of confidentiality? Gossipy, vengeful, untrustworthy.
I especially like the following image as a metaphor for transparency because it reminds me that we ourselves are the substance of what shows up in the “picture,” even though the style of our frames can differ.
Humility and Balance
Transparency means that the participants in an enterprise are humble enough to open up to scrutiny the processes of decision making, goal setting, and people supervising. This is crucial, because if these processes are closed to evaluation by insiders and/or outsiders, there is no way to get objective critiques that compliment what is right so we can keep doing it well or that correct what is not right so we can find how to fix or improve it. But this kind of balance cannot be found if people in the enterprise feel threatened, fearful, or ignored.
One of the great gifts given by followers the Triple Bottom Line is that we need to acknowledge that both shareholders (those who “own” the process) and stakeholders (those who are served in the process) hold an interest in open communications, accessibility, and accountability by leaders. This does not mean every Triple or Quadruple Bottom Line enterprise must run itself as a democracy in order to be considered legitimate, just that its leadership processes are open.
What are some opposites of humility and balance? Contemptuous, prejudiced, lazy.
As a set, the following three images capture reminders of the main abstract concepts that we need for our concrete actions to stay on course: values and directions (our compass), preferred future and goals (our telescope), and oversight of people and attention to details of methods (our magnifying glass). In practical geometry, a triangle is considered the strongest shape – hardest to crush – and in our practical enterprises, having this threesome of scrutiny tools will help us be strong. [P.S. Although these images show individuals, there can be and does need to be a corporate aspect to evaluation.]
Responsibility and Accountability
Transparency means that there is direct responsibility taken for decisions by those who made them, as well as being accountable for the outcomes and their quality, and any mid-course corrections needed. This requires that relevant assessments are done on a regular basis to evaluate the appropriateness of our direction and progress.
What are some opposites of responsibility and accountability? Hyper-diplomacy, blame-shifting, mediocre.
The burden of proof lies with the enterprise, especially its leaders. With most of the bottom line emphases, recognized and independent boards and/or consultants can evaluate processes and leaders on a regular basis and certify the results as being (or not yet being) organic, fair trade, eco-friendly, non-exploitative, etc. – all with standards that are clearly described and publicly accessible. These can be very helpful. However, they cannot save an enterprise if its leaders or managers refuse to be open, responsible, and accountable.
In the transparent organization, people know that leaders are not perfect. So leaders don’t act as if they are perfect and should be idolized, and we don’t treat them as if they are and should. Healthy participants in the enterprise – especially leaders – show integrity. This means our actions match our declarations.
What are some opposites of healthy integrity? Attention-hungry, procrastination, lackadaisical.
When we show grace toward one another and integrity in keeping our word, these give a basis for trusting us to other people inside and outside our enterprise. Also, all of us need to participate by doing what we can to be supportive and constructive so we as a team/group/enterprise can achieve our goals and activate social transformation.
Adaptability and Correctability
So, in the transparent organization, if things go wrong, there is open acknowledgement of errors – no cover up – and people take initiative to implement positive actions to correct mistakes. There is no blaming, shaming, or name-calling, either of those responsible or of anyone else, even if legitimate confrontation and correction of someone needs to occur. Also, there is no scape-goating of innocent people.
What are some opposites of adaptability and correctability? Afraid, rigid, growth-resistant.
Our attitudes about change may prove to be one of the best possible barometers to measure the atmosphere for transparency – and thus, for transformation. There are “negative confidence consequences” when we act as if we role model no wrong, say nothing wrong, and do nothing wrong when the opposite is true. And when we point our fingers at others to take attention away from ourselves. And when we set up others to fail, and/or blame them for failures. These are some of the biggest and most damaging forms of toxic behavior, and they result in great part from lack of transparency and integrity in the littlest of details. Are we on the road to transformation, or toxicity?
Verbal and Visual Review: What To Do and What Not To Do
The first four miniatures remind us what NOT to do to promote transparency that leads to transformational work: idolatry, ignore, accuse, scape-goat.
The final six miniatures remind us what TO DO to promote transparency that leads to transformational work: remove barriers to being seen clearly, establish our values and directions, fix on our preferred future and goals, oversee our people well and evaluate our methods, demonstrate we are stewarding all resources wisely, and collaborate for the common good.
Do-it-yourself: What other symbols, images, or metaphors can you think of to help you remember these concepts?
Highly Recommended Resources
For a super starter checklist of transparency factors and infrastructure suggestions for spiritual and church ministry enterprises, see The Model Mobilyzr Church. The mobilyzr.com site also offers other resources and evaluation systems. I have recommended these important tools before, in a blog post on Healthy Ministry Systems and Structures. You’ll find a series of relevant links there, and I’d strongly suggest reading that post to find out more about where this system came from, and how to use it to evaluate your organization’s system integrity.
© 2010 Brad Sargent. All rights reserved.