The nebulous topics of integrity and accountability can often be hard to measure and pursue, but our guest today, Blair Glencorse, has made it his life’s work to bring more of these important values into spaces stretching around the world. Accountability Lab aims to make governance work for people by supporting active citizens, responsible leaders, and accountable institutions. Blair has received the SXSW Community Award and is also behind the TV show and social project Integrity Icon, which seeks to raise up the work of upstanding people in whatever sector they may be impacting.
One of the underlining philosophies of all Blair’s work is positive reinforcement and celebration — they really push for the idea of naming and faming outstanding people to create role models for a community. Blair has worked in the social impact space for almost two decades and did this off the back of his studies in economics. He is also an advisor to the World Economic Forum and the World Bank, institutions that he believes can be very effectual with the involvement and direction of people of integrity.
In our conversation, we cover some of the important distinctions of these topics and Blair unpacks how he views integrity and accountability fitting together before we dive into some of the challenges that arise out of the work that he and his team do. We also get into the roots and fruits of the different projects he has been involved in and how the movement and collective always precede the individual, for him. For all this, plus a whole lot more inspiration, check out one of the links below:
Key Points From This Episode
Transparency + Answerability = Accountability
Transparency is an important part of accountability, but if nothing is done with the information, then no problem is solved.
Faming instead of shaming
There is research to support that rather than shaming people for doing the wrong things, celebrating those who do good is more productive because it models positive behavior and inspires others to do good.
Bottom-up approach vs. top-down
Often top-down-style work done by major organizations like the World Bank doesn’t have the most amount of impact possible for the communities they are trying to assist. The bottom-up approach, by speaking with locals and trying to bring those ideas to the community and government leaders to enact change can often yield more effective results.
Emphasizing teams over individuals
Most people recognize that more can be done by a team than by an individual. Teams are also important in the sense of holding each other accountable to their values. Individuals are more easily corrupted, especially when they receive a lot of attention for work that may cause incentives to shift.
“We don’t just work with civil society to demand accountability or demand more integrity, we also work with reformers within governments to try and help them actually develop that.” — @blairglencorse[0:06:57]
“There is a lot theoretical work to draw on but actually we are finding, at least in our little space that the practice is way ahead of the theory.” — @blairglencorse[0:07:45]
“I think there is far too much emphasis on individuals and not enough on teams and on the collective and that is really dangerous. It is always a collective effort and it should be about the movement.” — @blairglencorse[0:25:00]
“There is so much going wrong and it is so easy to become depressed and pessimistic about the state of the world, and I think we have to try and move beyond that.” — @blairglencorse[0:34:50]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode
Coming up next
Next episode, we’ll hear from Mark Brand, who went from being homeless to helping the homeless. He has provided food to millions of homeless people through his restaurants Save on Meats. If you’re impatient and want to learn more about Mark right away, you can go find out more about him at markbrandinc.com. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss us next week!