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Promoting a culture of transparency and accountability

Updated: Mar 7

Ethics & Integrity in Leadership

Leaders often speak about their commitment to transparency and accountability, and while some succeed in achieving these ideals, most fall short.

Whether it's the appointed or elected representatives in our respective countries or the creators of platforms and tools for global opinion-sharing, transparency and accountability are often touted as ultimate goals. Currently, social media is a hot topic that walks a fine line between enabling free speech and restricting certain viewpoints. While most platforms have good intentions, there are inevitably bad actors involved. However, over time, these individuals are exposed, and corrective measures are taken.

The construction industry also grapples with issues of transparency and accountability. This is primarily due to individual companies needing to maintain control and accuracy over their specific data and designs. Although various tools and methods exist to share information about a particular project, they do not provide the ultimate solution. Instead, a change in mindset is required. It is essential to recognize that this exploration is not a criticism of the need for data control but an examination of alternative perspectives on what control and transparency truly entail.

The desire to develop a new process has given rise to the concept of open BIM (Building Information Modeling). However, fear of losing control acts as a limitation to its widespread adoption. Nevertheless, there are multiple ways to engage in a constructive debate and overcome this limitation.

Craft a comprehensive plan.

Creating a detailed plan is crucial for achieving the right balance of transparency and accountability. It is essential to embed these principles within the plan and clearly define their context-specific meanings. However, this task proves challenging for most individuals as writing "contracts" requires legal expertise. The focus here is on the plan's framework, outlining what will be done (A, B, and C) and what will not be done (Q). Other elements need to be more flexibly stated without excessive rigidity.

Maintain consistency.

Keeping our list of beliefs concise is advisable to prevent easy challenges when new information emerges. When we express something as a belief, we essentially bind ourselves to a firm commitment that is difficult to violate without losing credibility. It is crucial to avoid being called out for contravening our convictions, even if we had seemingly valid reasons. By defining some elements as firm and others as flexible, we already have a predetermined response to unforeseen circumstances. Having a firm yet short list of definitive gives the company a better sense of what is expected and what is negotiable.

Adapt and pivot.

The mindset of "I think" allows us to adjust our path or plan in response to external events such as weather conditions, labor strikes, or supply chain issues, which are unpredictable and can dismantle a plan lacking a strong foundation. To address this, we should use phrases like "I think" or "It is a theory" instead of "I believe" when referring to flexible concepts.  A clear "yes" or "no" without room for debate on certain matters ensures that parties affected by a pivot event have a reference point for how to proceed. Hold meetings to address issues that are not already defined; otherwise, adhere to the plan.

Avoid retreating to familiarity.

During challenging times, we tend to revert to established methods and procedures for a sense of security. However, this inclination is counterproductive and generates more problems than solutions. Our comfort zone may be comforting, but it is important to rely on a well-crafted plan that enjoys broad adoption and support across the board.


So, what does all of this have to do with transparency and accountability? Well, knowledge empowers individuals. When rules are clear and transparent, viable solutions and options become evident. Consequently, accountability for actions and decisions is also transparent, ensuring a clear understanding of what needs to be done and who is responsible for each task.

Origionally Published: Sat, July 8, 2023

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