When my best efforts fail, I ask myself if my goal is still important. If it is, I get out of my head, share my challenge and ask for help.

While I have never had to personally deal with a failure of such all-encompassing significance as the BP oil spill, I can imagine I would respond to any failure of this nature as did Wayne Landry, parish council president in Louisiana`s St. Bernard Parish.

Rather than sit by and wait for the government or BP to tell him what he could do to help with this disaster, Mr. Landry stepped up, pulled his community together and began creating — and acting on — a plan to deal with the ramifications of this oil spill in Louisiana.

While BP has certainly called on the U.S. government to assist with this spill, they have yet to ask our country to submit ideas. Of course, asking for such ideas from the public would require owning full responsibility for what has happened — something BP has clearly not done yet. It`s amazing what people will do to help when you own responsibility for what`s happened and the ramifications.

If BP held several open forums, shared the full truth of what`s happening and allowed people to air their frustrations, it`s unlikely Mr. Landry would have said, “… at the end of the day [BP] can still lie to us about how it`s not as bad as anybody thinks. . . . Our people are furious about this.”

Likewise, John Tesvich, the head of the Oyster Task Force (who would have known such a task force existed!), would likely be in support of BP`s efforts, rather then ensuring his community knows just how frustrated he is with BP for “… spin[ning] everything as positive.”

Solving problems as fatal as the BP oil spill begins with honesty and ends with full community involvement. Yes, BP has failed at stopping the leak — more importantly, from a long-term perspective, they have failed at proactively engaging the community in an open and honest dialogue.

As Tony Schwarts wrote in the June issue of the Harvard Business Review “You build a culture of trust by telling the truth, even when it`s hard.”

The 1982 Tylenol scare was an opportunity for Johnson & Johnson to demonstrate the company`s core values on a global scale. Mistakes happen, and when they do, ownership begins the process of solving the problem. BP did not purposely cause the oil leak — they must, however, purposely own responsibility and engage the world in producing a solution.

Link to Washington Post