Higher Ed Happenings - Radical Transparency

Over the past week I’ve been watching the chaos unfolding over at Twitter (and many other technology companies) and wondering what brought us here. Thousands of people have been affected; layoff announcements seem to fill my LinkedIn feed and scheduled reductions are popping up on news sites. Setting aside the harrowing stories shared by former Twitter employees, I want to highlight what leaders at Stripe did when faced with a 14% reduction in workforce. They were radically human and transparent.

This kind of transparency shouldn’t be radical, and yet I’d wager when you read that memo you found yourself hoping to be treated similarly if you had to be on the receiving end of a layoff. What about this message is different? I propose it is not only the humility and humanity in the words, but also the honesty. Stripe founders chose to trust their employees with some hard truths and in doing so treated them with respect during a challenging time.

Higher education needs to learn this lesson. The paradox is that institutions espouse values of transparency and inclusivity, but rarely enact them. Sure, there’s superficial proclamations and initiatives started, but ask anyone on the front-lines with students if they believe these statements and you might be surprised by the pervading answers. Communication and transparency matter. Not just because organizations prosper when everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction at the same time, but because people prosper when we respect and acknowledge their humility and humanity.

I believe communication tools should embody this principle, and I invest that energy into the work we’re doing at Nectir. Putting communication channels in the hands of every institutional member has the power to democratize communication and demystify the bureaucracy that dominates much of post-secondary education. Imagine an educational experience that is fueled by passionate people, mapped by transparent processes, and communicated with respect and good faith.

It doesn’t sound that far-fetched, does it? Let’s build it together.

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