Sunday, January 18, 2009

Transparency and tough decisions

The Bainbridge Graduate Institute recently found it had to cut $1 million from its budget due to declining foundation support in these tough economic times. Rather than approach this problem from a top-down secretive approach, the leadership chose another path. You can hear the short news report here.

What isn't mentioned in the story is how they shared the problem with our entire community (students, faculty, staff, donors, vendors and more). This open process brought forth a ton of great ideas and allowed us to change the budget almost overnight.

Because it was transparent, the buy in and acceptance was unbelievable. We all were saddened by the decisions to cut staff but the open process made it palatable. A closed and secretive process would have created nothing but dissent, distrust and disharmony. Instead we are moving forward leaner and using our creativity to adjust to a new reality.

Perhaps the biggest problem was that the process generated so many good ideas that one could almost become paralyzed with too many options. This was not the case however as we sorted the ideas into a variety of pools opting for the low hanging fruit first before working our way up the tree.

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