While I’ve not blogged about my interest in politics – not partisanship- this TedTalk by political theorist Ivan Krastev hit the jackpot with me:
trust, politics and how transparency is not the solution!
And, it’s funny… well, some parts are funny others are daunting and a little depressing. I’ll let Mr. Krastev do the talking and invite your comments below but I just wanted to point out a few points that resonated with me.
First, Krastev points out how individualistic our society has become. It reminds me of the research on the importance of joint goals (which can be a national political vision or a departmental objective) and joint problem solving so people feel they matter in the process.
Second, the wired world – curation in particular – enables us to ghettoize ourselves so that we are exposed only to what we already believe. When we do this we are unable to understand other perspectives and are unable to see their trustworthy intent or benevolent actions. And, come on, do we really believe that people who don’t share our views wake up each morning with the intent to do horrible things in our organizations, our communities, our countries? I think things are a bit more nuanced than that. To quote Stephen Covey: “Seek first to understand than to be understood.”
Third, the point about brain science that reveals people don’t want to hear about policy so messaging has become more about manipulation than building credible, rational arguments is really important because if your organization is more about spin than ethics, you are contributing to this problem. Moreover, we need to be aware of manipulation like this and denounce it. A good place to start looking are ‘cutesy’ names for legislation. You’ll know you’re onto something when you hear someone say “How can you be against the “Ice Cream for Children” legislation?”
Finally, Krastev says:
The push for transparency is not the key because it becomes “management of mistrust”.
In this scenario the electorate and media become Big Brother and create an environment that does not attract the most civic-minded people to public office. As I’ve written before it’s also a tax on people because managing mistrust requires expensive oversight. To this, Canadian public administration expert, Donald Savoie, also writes extensively about how the advent of Access to Information Legislation in Canada has not added transparency but has created an environment where policy experts cannot commit their recommendations or thorough analyses to paper and consultants try to keep data and recommendations to ambiguous slide decks in case any content might be taken out of context.
This means that in an environment of distrust we are
- not getting the best advice;
- in a system that costs more;
- where we cannot attract the best people and;
- that does nothing but breed more distrust.
[PS. Sadly, this is NOT the funny part]
I hope you enjoy this piece and I would love to know what resonated with you. What solutions do you think hold the most promise for restoring trust in politicians, democracy and public institutions?