Last Saturday a group of concerned and web-savvy Italian citizens met in Rome to give birth to a new political party (named “Insieme Italia”, i.e. “Italia Together”). The new party aims at “building shared strategies and actions to get out of the social and economic crisis that besiege the country”
Associates have to accept a code of ethics that stipulates their independence from existing political parties and other concerns that might distract them from defending collective interests. Transparency and participation are said to be at the core of the new party to make sure ideas and plans are developed collegially.
Interestingly enough, the party’s brand new web site and Facebook page do not carry any information about the background for this idea, who the actual promoters and current roles are, nor is there any evidence yet that this information will be released any time soon.
Although this is a small example, it says a lot about the difference between preaching and adopting transparency. While some caution in embracing full transparency by established organizations is understandable (as they try to understand the potential disrupting impact on the mission, operation and structure), such caution is much more surprising in a brand new entity that claims its difference from previous ways of doing politics and centers its messaging around participation.
Transparency is a great tool, but comes with a high price: the loss of control. If our clients, citizens, voters see through our walls as in a glass house, so that they can tell us what is wrong, what to change and who to change, are we ready to take their advice? Are we ready to disrupt our plans? Are we ready to step aside?
The common wisdom is that social media is disruptive only for traditional organizations. The reality is it can disrupt each and every one of us. Are we willing to listen?
UPDATE: Less than 48 hours after its creation the Facebook page of the newly formed party “Insieme Italia” has removed the ability for Facebook users to post comments, and allows only posts from the administrator, claiming that this measure was requested by Facebook Inc. Here goes transparency.