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Book & film recommendation: Fyre Festival

PIT Book & Film Recommendations
How more transparency and openness could have saved a sun-soaked celebration

At the lunch table at People Intouch (which is virtual these days) tips are often shared on great books, articles, movies and documentaries relevant to our core passion: The “Whistleblower (or SpeakUp) Dilemma”. We figured: why keep them all to ourselves? In this series of blogs we will share these recommendations with you.

This time we will talk about the Netflix’s documentary FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

What happened?

This documentary shows us what may happen if the belief in a certain goal exceeds whether this goal is actually achievable. In short, the FYRE Festival founders promised guests that the festival would be held on a private island, with all expenses accounted for in the ticket price. However, in reality the organisers didn’t have near enough money to act on their promises. Nevertheless, the festival’s organisers went through with the event, leading to hundreds of unknowing guests making the flight over only to find out that the festival could not be held.

Why is this interesting?

This is a perfect example of how a group of people can remain in denial until the very last moment, while the problems are right in front of their eyes. What was needed in this case was someone to critically assess the situation, in order to burst the organisers’ bubble. However, everyone was so caught up in the idea that people in the organisation did not speak up and do something about the situation. Furthermore, most people where kept in the dark about how bad the situation actually was, which further complicated anyone’s attempts to work towards a solution. There should have been checks and balances to hold management accountable and routes for employees of the festival to voice their concerns.

Two main factors were missing: transparency from management and the ability to speak up about wrongdoings. While the FYRE festival might be an extreme example of these two factors, we argue that it is an example that is worth while keeping in mind when thinking about company culture. As long as people know where to go when they perceive wrongdoings, and management in transparent about what is going on within the organisation, a lot of potential harm can be avoided. By controlling information within an organisation, problems can be solved before they get out. Furthermore, giving your employees the idea that speaking up about perceived wrongdoings is beneficial to all, contributes to a safe and secure working environment. And what’s more; next to the documentary being educational, it is an enjoyable watch as well.

FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened can be streamed on Netflix. 

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