Jabberwocky

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Transparency

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2 weeks ago, we watched some of the Strata preview from the Office. Strata is a conference about bhe business of big data which takes place every year.

Michael Nelson’s story: after Wikileaks broke some highly sensitive stories, not only governments but also organizations decided to clamp down on every possible leak and information source. Michael Nelson argued that this is a bad approach – a much better oneis to strive for maximum transparency. The brazilian company SEMCO, striving for total transparency, was one of his examples.

He posited that in most organizations there is a kind of Pareto principle of sensitivity of information: a large majority of data could be disclosed without any damage, only a few percentage are of strategic importance.

Even better, disclosing that non-sensitive information creates a sense of trust and familiarity in the customers. Being open is simply good PR.

I do agree with those points, especially the last one: as examples see the blog post by a Rand Fishkin, and the Peldi’s blog. Both company founders talk about milestones, decisions, joys and disappointments in an earnest way. Their sharing creates a personal connection. The reader feels like cheering for their successes, and lamenting their losses, which does no end of good to their brand.

A more cynical part of me also senses that if you look transparent, people won’t look that closely because they think they know all there is to know. Also, one could be drowning out relevant information in noise, as it were. Not to mention that any displayed infomation can be given the spin it requires.

On the other hand, I feel that a lot of organizations would still be reluctant to go that far: unfortunately, companies can be dysfunctional enough that they wouldn’t like to wash their dirty laundry in public.

While in fact, transparency might be very beneficial for these organizations: public shaming is a strong motivator for change. Something they might want to come to terms with, because in the age of porous boundaries, disclosure might happen whether they want to or not.

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