I am an elementary educator in the Hawaii Department of Education. Openness does not exist on my campus. Or, maybe it does, and I don’t have access to that privy information—which goes back to—openness does not exist on my campus. The reason could be because the concept of openness is oblivious for consideration. The reason could also be because the use of technology for meetings and sharing of ideas is nearly nonexistent. Nevertheless, everyone attends meetings. In fact, everyone attends meetings several times a week; all are face-to-face.
The agenda at meetings, at least the ones I have attended, are standardized. Someone leads the meeting, the leader follows an agenda, others may speak if they have a place on the agenda, the rest of the attendees may or may not contribute anything depending on the nature of the meeting or if time allows for sharing of ideas, opinions, concerns, etc. It is hierarchical just as everything else is. Opinions and new ideas seem taboo, because protocols are in place, and it took a lot of a lot to place them there. Changing that will surely be rubbing against the grain. Even if someone did have a better way of doing something, it won’t be acknowledged. It has to come from the top down [the top could be anyone with more seniority] and not necessarily those in administration. If you share an idea, it had better be complete and polished, or noses will be turned upwards. Passing thoughts, even good ones, are snuffed. It has to come from the top.
Don’t get me wrong. I work with some of the most amazing, talented, and dedicated people I’ve ever come across. Having said that, the use of collaborative meetings while incorporating technology where faults can become exposed and recorded and where emails is the primary source of communication is an insane notion!
In retrospect, I do recall faculty working collaboratively using Google Docs to add and edit information for accreditation. Surveys were conducted using Google Forms or Survey Monkey. So, there is hope, and here’s a thought. Having a ListServ for various project groups may attract interested minds even though members are usually selected or appointed. In any case, it’s a start. Alan Gunn said:
You have to start with that core team, the people who show up first; you
need to start with them in mind, get them to agree on what’s important, and
get them into a shared vocabulary. Without that, there’s no minimal
essential product to collaborate around in the first place (as cited by OpenMatt, n.d.).
I appreciate the conciseness of OpenMatt’s degrees of openness and what it means to be open. Most of all, I feel the conviction in Gunn’s quoted words in how keynote speakers are portrayed. I believe the same goes for all in leadership positions. Be the servant leader, not the rock star. That is a good place to begin.
Gunn, Allen. (n.d.). Roadies vs. rock stars (Blog). Retrieved from http://blog.workopen.org/leadership/
OpenMatt in Mozilla. (2011, April 6). How to work open (Blog). Retrieved from http://openmatt.org/2011/04/06/how-to-work-open/.