You’ve heard me emphasize “independent” decision-makers in past years. (1)
Look at how many of our public servants are dependent decision-makers. Their decisions “depend.” They depend on what you give them.
It never struck me how important the phase of my life was when I served as an independent decision-maker. Isn’t it amazing how much of our experience in past years is now becoming relevant?
I was one among 18 “independent decision-makers” at the Canadian board that determined refugee status, the Immigration and Refugee Board.
We maintained a certain decorum, recognizing the seriousness of the proceedings for the claimant. And we felt a certain dignity as a result. Not false dignity – arrogance, entitlement, etc. But a real sense of bearing a portion of the nation’s weight.
To wall us off from corruption, we were forbidden direct contact with the public or press. We couldn’t answer letters. We couldn’t post to the Internet. We were definitely in an ivory tower.
It was a Spartan existence for eight years. But it’s the principle I’m pointing at, not the extent or degree to which it was applied.
Now balance that against the price society pays when votes are bought by money from some corrupt foundation or a company with an interest in the matter.
Balance that against the cost to the nation of public servants so corrupted that they’re trading in children. The drug trade, the arms trade, the trade in humans. How much lower are we prepared to go or tolerate in a world of dependent decision-makers?
Let’s place a few more weights on the plus side of the scale, the side of being – and being allowed to be – an independent decision-maker.
Place in it the immense sense of making a difference in someone’s world. Like a medical doctor from Bangladesh who never received medical treatment as a kid because she was a girl, resulting in preventable Bell’s Palsy. Despite her handicaps, she became a doctor while her family took every cent she earned … because she was a girl.
Or a boy whose family sold him to the snakehead to be transported to Canada. To what fate? They did not care.
Or women facing honor killing for dating the man of their choice. Or acid attacks. Or judicial rape.
Once a Korean-Chinese woman performed a ceremony in front of me. I asked the translator what she was doing. He said it was a ceremony reserved for the emperor and that I should simply allow her to do it. I was so moved.
Balance these rewards against the regimen.
You didn’t get to play in this arena unless you were at least decent, and, better still, willing. There were no corrupt people to be seen or heard at the lunch table.
We were able to work that way because we were mandated and allowed to be independent.
Why do I go to such trouble to emphasize this? Because, when you create your humanitarian/philanthropic funds and foundations, if you want to reach your highest vision, make sure that your decision-makers are mandated and allowed to be independent; that is, independent when viewed from your perspective and from theirs.
From your perspective, they’re allowed no conflicts of interest. They’re walled off from corruption, however that looks. They’re sworn to confidentiality regarding their decisions, except from spouses and therapeutic counselors (think secondary-trauma counseling)
From their perspective, they’re free from all pressure from you, your friends and relatives, and/or anyone outside the organization. You protect them from all three. I’ll go into more detail, below, for the seriously-interested. (2)
There may be many more things than those on my list that contribute to the decision-maker feeling safe to bring the highest wisdom, most umbrageous fairness, and deepest compassion that they feel capable of to their decisions, in support of the organizational mission.
Guarantee and call forth the independence of your financial decision-makers and the situation of corruption such as exists at most levels of public service at the moment will cease to exist.
(1) See for instance, “The Importance of Being an Independent Decision-Maker – Part 1/2,”
(2) You do not ever seek anything from them. You do not ever bestow gifts upon them, aside from bonuses regarded as routine and normal. In no way are they personally beholden to you.
All needed security is paid for and provided by you, erring on the side of the protection of the decision-maker.
You completely back their independence at all times; in all press conferences, to higher authorities, etc.
Severance packages are decided in advance so that there are no inducements that can be held over the decision-maker’s head later.
Here for your reading enjoyment is The Importance of Independent Decision-Making.