Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Curious Silence

Are you loyal? Will you speak the truth? Will you speak through formal channels or air ideas and thoughts without institutional editing? Are bloggers inherently untrustworthy because they vent and embarrass persons and institutions? What sort of editing filter should a blogger who works within and institution impose upon himself/herself?
"Wired" magazine, "Fast Company" and "The Economist", "Yahoo" and Google" all argue for open and transparent leadership, including blogging by and about leadership and structure. Proprietary confidentialities must be maintained, but open discussions about trends and directions are encouraged and invited. "Apple" does not encourage blogging, especially by employees or contractors. A "cone of silence" sits around these companies.
A staff person once accused me of using my blog as a form of passive aggressiveness, choosing to assign blame without ever talking to the person face-to-face. That's an easy temptation. For me to have integrity with the staff I work with, they must know that any issue I have with them is first of all dealt with face-to-face. And even then, because of confidentiality and the integrity of a relationship, it does not enter the blog. I think the same thing goes for my family members. My family's issues must not become fodder for the public. But does that hold true to institutions like the local church, conference, denomination, agencies, camps and committees? I don't think so. What do you think? What costs have you paid for blogging (you can post anonymously if you wish)?


At 7:32 AM , Anonymous pamas said...

Don, I get concerned whenever normal channels of communication are silenced "from above." Such a move seems to come from fear, and it can lead to resentment and more fear. A good friend went through painful contortions trying to keep up his employer's image of perfect Christian families while his own marriage was disintegrating.

At the same time, once the words are put out, they're available for others to use or distort. At my current employer, when department heads requested to meet privately with the board of directors (to discuss concerns about the contracted management company), it showed up in the local newspaper as "St. M's future to be debated." While this publicity wasn't helpful, knowing we had done nothing wrong allowed us to deal with the transparency.

At 3:22 PM , Anonymous pamas said...

More thoughts later in the day -
It seems to me that assessing one's own motivation for airing organizational concerns (both above and around one's own position) is a part of self-monitoring. Venting frustration is sometimes necessary and may be best done in private conversation. We can usually recognize when that's what we want/need to do. At other times one feels strongly enough about an issue so that s/he's willing to risk expressing the concerns in a public forum (including blogs). In such a case, it's helpful for me to ask myself if I'd actually be willing to actively participate in designing and implementing a better way. For what it's worth...

At 9:40 PM , Blogger Dan said...

It seems to me that honest conversation is appropriate in these organizations-done civilly. It's a matter of being willing to face reality. If it's mean spirited or destructive in in the worst sense of that word then the blogger should check her/his motives. We have a communal obligation to use words to build up and not to tear down- but we are also to work to tear down those things that keep us from the knowledge of God.

That we are instructed in these way about our words it must be possible to steward the power of language just so.

That is my thinking.


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