Decision-making, transparency, and culture

So, the worst-kept secret in politics is out: we’re going to the polls on 5 May.

Democracy, of course, isn’t about government by the people, it’s a chance for the public to decide who will govern on their behalf. (Actually, it reminds me of the Management By Exception concept from Prince2 – a Project Manager is given authority to manage within certain limits. If those limits are likely to be exceeded, the Project Board can intervene). As a result, democratic countries demand a high level of transparency in their electoral processes. We only need to look at recent events in Ukraine to see what happens when a democratic electorate believes that it is not being told the full story.

This isn’t the only election taking place though: within the next two weeks a new Pope will be elected. This election, however, happens in a very different way; a process shrouded in secrecy, dogma and habit. So, for the spiritual leader, an opaque election participated in only by an elite inner circle; for the political leader, a transparent poll involving every adult in the nation. So why do people accept such a huge difference between these election methods?

I can only see one reason, that being the level of trust placed in those leaders. Politicians are derided at every turn (often justly!) and every move is regarded with scepticism, but religious leaders command a powerful trust from all who follow them.

The lesson: keep your decision making utterly transparent unless you are able to inspire blind faith in your employees!

Cennydd Bowles