How do you define “transparency”?
For many, transparency conjures up images of pristine water or crystal clear glass. In a workplace setting, transparency is associated with freedom, sharing, openness and light.
In fact, Oxford Dictionaries define “transparent” as “allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen.”
During the past few years, enterprises have been embracing transparency at all levels, from the C-suite down. However, despite taking important and, in some cases, impressive steps forward, many of these enterprises continue to face obstacles.
Why the roadblocks? Many enterprises are still talking about transparency, rather than exercising transparency. What is the difference? Enterprises that talk about transparency are obligated to continuously “push” transparency into their activities, functions, processes and policies -- because they know if they stop, then eventually so does the transparency. This “applied transparency” is the kind that enterprises can rent, but never own.
However, leaders within enterprises that exercise transparency do not feel the need to “force feed” transparency to employees. This is because transparency is embedded within the fabric of their culture. They own it. As such, they unleash transparency from within to qualitatively and quantitatively improve employee engagement, workflow management, communication and collaboration, customer support and development, program and project governance, and more.
What are the guiding principles that will drive the transparent enterprise of 2015?
1. Democratic information sharing.
Rather than confining key information (e.g. organizational goals, performance metrics, resource utilization plans, etc.) to a small circle of executives, transparent enterprises are marked by democratic information sharing. As such, these companies drive participation and engagement at all levels, leveraging 100 percent of their knowledge capital to make better decisions.
2. Aligned input and impact.
Instead of directing employees to perform tasks and then shielding them -- either by design or default -- from the effects of their efforts, transparent enterprises let employees see how their contribution fits the bigger picture. Why? Because they grasp that aligning input with impact is the smartest way to drive employee investment, which is not just the basis for growth: On a competitive landscape where talent is often more valuable the capital, it is critical for survival.
3. Organic innovation.
Transparent enterprises do not restrict innovation to the context of product, service or process development. Rather, much like transparency itself, they view innovation organically as well as functionally. To that end, they empower employees at all levels to innovate how the enterprise sells, markets, supports, develops, communicates and generates feedback.
4. Evolving into a transparent enterprise.
Evolving into a transparent enterprise requires leaders to have knowledge and insight to make the right technology investments. More importantly, leaders must commit to changing their organizational structure from one that is hierarchical and centralized to one that is flatter and more democratic.
While there may be some growing pains associated with this shift, the effort is both worthwhile and necessary. In 2015, transparency is a “must” for an enterprise to achieve participation, alignment and awareness and to succeed as a democratic, forward-looking company.