Disclosing Setbacks: A Serious Commitmment to Transparency

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I think we all know that ANGEL had a minor meltdown during finals week. Although it was an unfortunate situation, I have to say I was impressed with the relative openness of how it was handled.

The ANGEL Help team was very diligent about e-mailing whatever updates they could (I'm pretty saw one at midnight). Soon afterwards, I saw that Kevin Morooney wrote a detailed blog entry about the ANGEL crisis and what steps would be taken with a sincere apology.

The idea of transparency is very important to our organization, but I'm not sure you can be truly transparent unless you can share your failures as well as your successes. Even though it was not pleasant for anyone to explain that ANGEL had crashed...again, I think the speed and detail was important to users. It told them that ITS was aware of the serious impact on the PSU community, and that they were committed to solving the problem.

The alternate would have been to say nothing or be vague, but then the faculty and students would legitimately wonder - "Don't they know how bad this is? Don't they care?" It is true that when you deliver bad news, you probably will hear complaints from users and that your reputation may be slightly besmirched, but I think we have to trust that users will be forgiving.

We all know computers die, but it's even worse when computers die and you get the runaround. I'm not saying we have to give ALL the ugly details out, but if something unexpectedly bad happens, I think it's better to inform the public when you can so help people can make backup plans.

I know a lot of faculty complain about ANGEL, but I think they do trust the ANGEL staff at the end of the day to do their best. I know I do.

1 Comments

Mary said:

I agree it's more honorable to be forthright. Of course, it does expose you to a certain...

Well, for example, the Facebook groups created in our honor:
Penn State ANGEL Course Management System
Im glad angel went down during finals week....
People Against the Evil Angel
PSU FIX ANGEL ALREADY DAMMIT!
Angel Blows -- "I'm through with Angel's tyranny over my GPA simply because people with 6 digit incomes and double digit IQs are diagnosing how to reboot the system." We thought that was the most precious one.

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