On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 5:52 PM, Risker <risker.wp(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On 29 February 2016 at 19:10, Andreas Kolbe
No. You are either transparent and honest, or you are not.
Or you could be opaque but honest. "Honest" and "transparent" are
There are several things that organizations cannot reveal, for legal,
contractual, or ethical reasons - or at least they cannot reveal them
without risking serious censure, lawsuits or in some cases regulatory
charges. Reputational risk is bad enough, but if a board member leaks
something that leads to a credible threat of legal action or regulatory
charges - even with the best of intentions and with no ill-will intended -
not only does the board need to take action, but it needs not to compound
the error in judgment by broadcasting it.
Jimmy gave an example in an earlier post of the need to not reveal the
terms of a contract that was extremely favourable to the WMF as a condition
of the contract - the condition added because the contractor did not want
to offer the same terms to other organizations. If a board member leaked
that to, say, a competitor of the contractor, that would violate the
contract, even if the intention was good (such as trying to obtain
favourable terms from the competitor as well). Now...keep in mind that
revealing the fact of a leak would have the same net effect of saying
"Company A is giving us a special deal", i.e., the very thing that the
contract is supposed to prevent. If the board removed a member for a
scenario along this line, they would be being honest, even if they were not
being transparent because they did not reveal the precise reason for the
That is a scenario, and I have no inside knowledge or any reason at all to
believe that this is what occurred on the WMF Board. But I can think of
several other similar scenarios that would fall into the same "honest but
not transparent" response.
So please, let's stop pretending those two words mean the same thing.
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I agree in general with your message, but there's still a critical
distinction to be drawn there.
There are legitimate reasons that a matter just cannot be discussed. Any of
us who've been on ArbCom, which you have too, know that. And I damn well
know the frustration of it; in a lot of those cases, I desperately wished I
could say why we did what we did, and we'd have gotten a lot fewer rocks
thrown at us. But in those cases, it wasn't possible (and you have to
protect the privacy of the jerks the same way as the innocent victims), so
you endure the suspicion and that's all you can do.
But there's still a critical distinction to be drawn there. In those cases,
we still said plainly "Sorry, but we're not able to discuss that." We
didn't dance around it, or obfuscate, or spin, or try to bury the fact that
we weren't going to answer it in pages upon pages of PR say-nothing crap.
"I cannot answer that", in cases where one genuinely can't, still is an
honest response that's as transparent as possible. Trying to deflect
attention away, bury it, and spin it is dishonest.
So that's the distinction I see there. Spin, PR, and obfuscation are
dishonest in all cases. If you can't or won't answer, then flatly and
unambiguously say that. If possible, at least say in general terms (legal
concerns, privacy, NDA, etc.) why you can't discuss it. Trying to deflect
and hoping people just lose interest is a fundamentally dishonest tactic.