Yes, lots of firms have Transparency as one of the core values embedded on their flag.
But what is embedded on the company flag is very often what companies have a great deal of problems accomplishing. So instead of doing it, they subscribe to values like Transparency mainly as a symbolic gesture and/or as an esposed (as opposed to actual) religion.
Transparency as a core value is extremely problematic for several reasons which I will point out in this post. If you are a reader based in the west and doing business in the west, read this anyway because it may apply to you.
- Many companies misrepresent their capabilities during the sales process. Subsequently, they misrepresent expected timetables. Upon delivery, the client can be surprised or unhappy about what was delivered, yet keeps on buying because of the temporary advantage that the product delivers. IF A COMPANY IS NOT TRANSPARENT WITH ITS CLIENTS, THERE IS ZERO CHANCE FOR INTERNAL TRANSPARENCY.
- In many parts of Asia (especially China and Taiwan), Russia & the FSU as well as the Middle East, Transparency is often seen as a bizarre western quirk. The common approach is “why share knowledge i.e, power? Why give others an advantage? Why expose weaknesses? Transparency will enable HQ to fu-k us! Or other development sites will take our knowledge away”.
- Being Transparent is indeed is often being stupid for the nerd in the trenches: you get more work; you get more pressure; you are more vulnerable. Not strangely, HR is the function which most often promulgates Transparency because it is easier to manipulate the staff when their guards are down all hyped up by transparency (and authenticity).
Now don’t get me wrong. Transparency is a great enabler of better management and healthier organizations. Ah-ma-ma (a Hebrew slang for “but what”), it is often resisted (justifiably) and not always REALLY beneficial for the interface with the client.
It’s September and there is a deadline which is impossible to meet in December. If I am transparent, I will voice my opinion immediately and will be worked to the bone from now on. If I surface my “concerns” in December just before the deadline, I will have just a few days/weeks of pressure and the delivery will be rescheduled.
Okay, so you have reached this far and and think, “he’s crazy, of course I want my organization to support and celebrate Transparency.” Just to make sure, take this small test:
- Do you support the idea that staff share one another’s salaries, perks and bonuses with one another?
- Is your engineering department free to discuss all the products’ shortcomings with clients, and provide a realistic timeframe for them to be fixed?
- Are you willing to diviludge what are the real reasons why highly incompetent people retain their job, even during the most severe downsizing?
- Is Supply Chain mandated to negotiate the contracting services so ensure that ALL vendors (not just strategic ones) makes a fair profit AND get paid on time with no lame excuses? Again I emphasize, all vendors.
- If you do not give out salary increases when the going is bad, do you compensate when the going is good? Or do you have a bullshit excuse when the going is good as well?
Now, do the math.