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Story Two

They appeared to be dishonest

by Phil Bartle, PhD


Eloise was certain that the Community Project Committee members were trustworthy. What was odd, however, was that there were rumours about embezzlement and other dishonest acts that diverted community funds into private pockets. Finally, Eloise went to her supervisor, Andrea, and asked for some help and guidance. Andrea was not known to the community, and she paid a visit without revealing her identity, and she listened to the gossip.

Back in her office, Andrea called Eloise for a chat. “I am quite sure you are right about your assessment of the committee,” said Andrea. “But the people of the community think otherwise.” I have seen other cases like this, and what I suspect is that the Project Committee members are being secretive; they are giving the community members the “mushroom treatment.” Eloise went back to the village and met with the Project Committee members. She warned them that she would be very frank with them, and she was. The problem, she said was that the image of the committee was not good, and basically it was because they were not being transparent. “Honesty must not only be done, it must be seen to be done,” she told them.

Together they came up with a strategy of having a community meeting every two weeks where they would reveal the progress of the project, summarise all income and expenditures, and answer all questions from the community. At first almost everybody attended, but as the situation was defused, fewer people came, until it was only a few who wanted to make sure the committee remained transparent. Eloise and the committee were able to save the situation by being more proactively transparent.

Note: These stories are based on actual events. The names of people and places have been changed for the sake of anonymity.


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© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
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Last update: 2011.09.23

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