Last week I spent some time with my family in Mexico, and we stayed in a house that had no glass in the windows. We were sleeping surrounded by the air from outside. There were, of course, shutters to be closed during a storm.
Sleeping in the relative open, yet in a house, was strange for me.
I think that in general we are all pretty used to houses with four walls, all closed in tight, a good deal of the time. Even the glass in those windows is often covered by “window treatments.” We have built many of our institutions in that image, but when being closed up tight is not necessary, and even possibly antithetical to our best interests, maybe we need to reconsider. In case you were wondering, I am discussing the issue of transparency and participation again.
I absolutely believe that many organizations are much more self-protective and rigid than they need be, and that this drives off support. But changing the culture in and around the house becomes critical to achieving new levels of viability and safety. I wanted to suggest to you again that we begin rethinking organizational design to consider how much space there is for our stakeholders to get in and work with us on direction setting, and information gathering, and constant improvement of the program.
We would love to hear about any recent attempts you have made to create your “houses”/nonprofits in a different and more open image.
Meanwhile, here is one story, from North Korea, that describes what can happen when walls come down between organizations, even temporarily.