Transparency, authenticity, integrity and the like are not just overly-idealistic buzzwords for today’s business world; they provide long-lasting AND immediate benefits to those who invest time and energy to make it a prominent aspect of their business operations.
Consider the image above: Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, CT. Construction was completed in 1949 and, yes; all the walls are glass. To allow easy airflow and lighting; the only walls within the house are that of a brick cylinder that contains the bathroom on one side and features a fireplace on the other. Everything else is open and completely exposed.
Here are a few predictable benefits such transparency can have on businesses:
1. Culture of transparency leaves no room for ‘hidden agendas’.
Everything then, is to be done on purpose; with purpose. Ideas and issues are openly discussed for all who want to be involved. Preferential treatment, closed-door meetings, and back-room deals are how rumors get started. Finances, salaries, contract details – everything. This lays the groundwork for a culture of trust.
2. Personal gains happen through service to others.
Win-win situations are incredible; likely because they are about as rare as four-leaf clovers in most organizations. Too often, those with proper information to make such decisions are rewarded for benefitting a select few at the cost of so many – mass layoffs; pollution, decreasing quality, insider trading, etc. When everything is open and free to be discussed; the basic premise of Servant Leadership is not only allowed to thrive; it will be standard operating procedure by everyone.
3. Hiring, firing, and promoting becomes easy.
Even compensation strategies and packages become a non-issue when they are directly tied to a clearly stated, singular purpose.
Does Mary have skills or experience that bring more value?
Did John’s team design new product line that catapulted revenues?
Did top leadership guide business towards expected goals?
All too often people are compensated for external or hidden factors that don’t directly connect to the business. Some pioneering companies allow employees to name their own salary. They report that employees are more committed to delivering value. AND that while individuals’ pay varied widely; the overall payroll for the entire company was remarkably similar to when it was controlled.
4. This culture of transparency protects itself by supporting ‘right’ behaviors.
People don’t stay with (or leave) companies. They stay with, follow, or leave select managers. A culture of transparency allows for more autonomy, greater levels of innovation, and overall higher productivity. It also results in significantly higher retention of talent. These have a compounding impact of a company by naturally lowering the costs of operations and allowing higher margins of profitability.
While the above benefits can be rather exciting; they do seem to hint more towards results that develop over time. How does transparency help bring immediate results?
5. Simple conversations with interested people.
Sales presentations are often awkward and tense. Transparency helps streamline the process and conversations become more comfortable – without pushy sales techniques or market manipulations like contests, gift-with-purchase, promotional discounts, free goods, etc. (These only produce temporary results at lower margins.) One company I talked with sold nearly 70% of their clients at 20% discount!
The clients and customers who truly believe in and strongly desire your products/services will see value at whatever price you name (think an Apple store the day of a new iPhone release). Build meaningful connections and let your customers become advocates.
6. PR, Media, and Marketing efficiencies.
Rather than investing into ‘image protection’ or ‘PR Spin’ as some call it; transparent businesses of all sizes can easily become valid media sources themselves by simply sharing information in meaningful and relevant ways and allowing employees, customers, and fans to share their content. It won’t take long for other sources to begin featuringstories about your business (on your terms) simply because you are making an impact.
It turns out that it costs significantly more to convince people to talk about how what you are doing is somehow cool, interesting, or remarkable than it does to actually do something cool, interesting, or remarkable and let people passionately share what you are doing with millions of others. It still helps to have great partnerships with industry experts who can help plan and implement your message; but by being transparent; the entire process works significantly more efficiently – and everyone will have fun representing your business with authenticity.
The obvious thing about transparency is that it cannot be faked. It reveals everything. It won’t happen overnight. In fact it will take quite a while to accomplish. Buy we can each can make key steps every day to become more transparent and more authentic knowing we have lot’s of powerful advantages heading our way.
When will you start your Transparency Journey?
* * * * *
david r frick is a business artist and founder of SuccessVentures – a consulting firm focused on helping owners and entrepreneurs through a holistic approach to building sustainably-growing companies that meet the needs of contemporary business environments. Follow and share his regular postings here or on twitter (@drfrick)