About transparency

Until recently we all have spoken about the Internet as a channel for the external communication, and the Intranet as the internal channel for communication.

More interesting is the development we see today, where the ideas of transparency and two way communication becomes the standard. Even TV is moving very quickly in that direction. What does this mean? Transparency? Two way communication? It’s to very different concepts, and adding them together creates a third. For now I’ll write a little about transparency.

 

The word “transparency” invites you to think of the idea that what is communicated is open for all to see. Who is the messenger and who is the receiver? Towards whom is the message meant for? and so forth. It’s by far a more horizontal form of communication, and can be a more honest kind of communication.

One example could be; “in our company all communication that is possible to be open and free, shall be open and free for all. Only information that has to be hidden for most will be opened towards groups or individuals. If you implement this idea, you get a combined inter- and intranet where there is a conceptual point in letting everyone outside and inside the organisation be exposed to the same communication flow. You give access for “added internal information/ communication flow” only to those who really needs it. It leads to less double communication, and allows the company / organisation to increase efficiency and reduce cost and double exposure of information elements. In addition everyone in the organization become well aware of how and what the company are communicating externally. The marketing and branding gets internalized in the organization. It’s great way of building a common culture in the company.

Another example of taking transparency into the real world and live by it could be if your company / org. decide to show directly what activities the employees are involved in, to show externally what the company really are doing, what they are spending time on. I discussed this with my friend Gavin Bargus today, as he asked me: “What do transpaerency really mean to management in companies?” My question is also: “Do managements really mean it if they state it ?” or does it just become some sort of “show of statement?” As a customer I would really like to know this, because it would show me where my money goes. Gavin asked : “If you connect every employee to the hour reporting system in a company, presented it as a bar/graph on the website, wouldn’t that be real transparency?” The result could be that every one could see that e.g. Geir(me), as a consultant (or the consultant group) spent e.g. 18% of his time in meetings with customers, 42% writing strategies for 2 customers. He also spent 5% to increase his knowledge and 12% administrational time. 13% of his time was spent in sales activities. A set of bars presenting the total of the whole company would show how efficient the company is as we speak. The question “Where did my money go?” would be answered at all times. That is transparency! It is an option to be in front of competition on the marketplace, to be honest and it would build an organisation that really works as a team to win on the marketplace.

But I can hear the CEO’s out there, shouting; “Is this man crazy?” We can never show this in real time, it’s madness!” It’s “illegal” “our staff would go wild and hang us!”

I would say: Nop, they wouldn’t – nor would the customers! It all depends on the intention, and the purpose and how it’s done. To be honest, to be open and transparent, has to involve the braveness to show what the reality is, to put integrity into ones actions, daringly and without the temptation to manipulate with facts. Not to do so, should at least give the consequence that one stop using the term transparency uncritically.

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