How would you react? You'd probably dig right into that article, wouldn't you? Would you also ask yourself what the heck is going on that it's so bad to have made this kind of news?
As you pick your way through the article it becomes clearer that taking the ugly stuff to the press is a symptom of more deeply rooted dysfunctionality. Sure, we readers can see it in a instant -- the lid's just blown off a whole kettle full of long-standing problems:
- lack of internal communication (particularly between the board and the CEO)
- misunderstanding of roles and responsibilities (on either or both the board's and CEO's parts)
- misplaced or unmet expectations
- an "us" versus "them" mentality -- a lack of governance or leadership sharing, sometimes overlaid with suspicion
- the organization is hemorrhaging red ink (and has been for some time) -- this could also be a symptom, which becomes the tipping point for an explosion/implosion
Like turning on the lights in a dark room, sometimes moving organizational dysfunction into the realm of public scrutiny can be a good thing. In the case of one organization, local citizens are now calling for the board (via letters to the editor and op-ed pieces) to engage the community in an honest conversation about the organization's future. Sometimes it can help release the toxicity from the organization and offer opportunities for new people and perspectives to become involved.
Sometimes it can have the opposite effect.
Either way, the organization and its mission gets derailed, because it can't function until the crisis is addressed.
How would you handle an internal crisis that suddenly goes public?
Photo: Dear Karrth Sair, from Shadow Viking